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Browns' initial 2021 53-man roster: Position by position analysis

Here’s a breakdown of how every position looks on the first edition of the Browns’ 53-man roster


The Browns' initial 53-man roster is official, and we're breaking down the group position by position before the team returns to the practice field Tuesday.

Quarterbacks (2): Baker Mayfield and Case Keenum

Analysis: Keenum, a nine-year veteran, returns as the backup for Mayfield for Year 2 under head coach Kevin Stefanski. Keenum's knowledge with the system and NFL experience was a great resource for Mayfield last year, so it's no surprise to see him back as Mayfield looks to soar even higher in 2021.

Running backs (4): Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, D'Ernest Johnson, Demetric Felton

Analysis: The two-headed monster of Chubb and Hunt is set to live in Cleveland through at least the 2022 season after Chubb signed a three-year extension during training camp. Johnson, who went undrafted in 2018 and began 2019 out of the NFL and with the now-defunct Alliance of American Football, is now set for his third straight season in Cleveland. Felton, a 2021 sixth-round pick, proved he could play at receiver, running back and returner and could be used at all three positions in his rookie year.

Fullbacks (1): Andy Janovich

Analysis: Janovich was a factor in the Browns' run game finishing third in the NFL last season. He's a favorite of Stefanski and will again be asked to pave rushing lanes for Chubb and Hunt.

Wide receivers (5): Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Anthony Schwartz, Rashard Higgins

Analysis: Peoples-Jones was the standout player of training camp and could see an uptick in opportunities this season after he caught 14 passes for 304 yards last season. Higgins is a reliable backup for Landry and Beckham, who give the Browns' one of the league's best WR tandems.

Tight ends (3): Austin Hooper, David Njoku, Harrison Bryant

Analysis: This group lost a valuable special teams asset in Stephen Carlson due to a season-ending injury earlier in training camp. All three tight ends, though, are expected to carry big roles in the offense — both in receiving and blocking capacities.

Offensive linemen (10): Jedrick Wills Jr., Joel Bitonio, JC Tretter, Wyatt Teller, Jack Conklin, Chris Hubbard, James Hudson III, Nick Harris, Blake Hance, Michael Dunn

Analysis: The Browns have plenty of depth to back up the same five O-Line starters from last season. Hubbard returns after a remarkable recovery from suffering ACL and MCL tears to his knee late last season, while Hudson is an emerging rookie whom the Browns hope to mold into a swing tackle. Harris, a 2020 fifth-round pick, also offers versatility at both center and guard.

Defensive linemen (8): Myles Garrett, Jadeveon Clowney, Takk McKinley, Malik Jackson, Andrew Billings, Malik McDowell, Tommy Togiai, Jordan Elliott

Analysis: Garrett and Clowney will be the main X-factors in the production of this group, and Jackson and Billings, the two players who appear atop the depth chart after an eight-man competition at defensive tackle, could benefit with big seasons as well. McDowell was one of the most noticeable defenders in the last two preseason games, while Togiai, a fourth-round rookie, and Elliott, a 2020 third-round pick, are two young pieces whom the Browns plan to give more time to develop.

Linebackers (7): Anthony Walker Jr., Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Mack Wilson, Sione Takitaki, Malcolm Smith, Jacob Phillips, Tony Fields II

Analysis: The Browns felt more than lucky to select Owusu-Koramoah in the second round of the 2021 draft after they, like many other draft analysts, circled him as first-round talent. He joins Wilson, Takitaki, Fields and Phillips — a 2020 third-round pick who will miss regular season time with a biceps injury — as young prospects who will be asked to carry big roles in the front seven.

Defensive backs (10): Denzel Ward, Greg Newsome II, Greedy Williams, Troy Hill, John Johnson III, Ronnie Harrison Jr., Grant Delpit, Richard LeCounte III, MJ Stewart Jr., AJ Green

Analysis: The Browns haven't been able to complete too many practices with all of their starting secondary hopefuls on the field. The depth at each position, however, is much stronger than previous years thanks to the additions of Newsome and LeCounte, two rookies who performed well in preseason games. Green, one of the most coveted players from the 2020 undrafted free-agent pool, spent most of last season on the practice squad but earned his way onto this season's roster with a strong training camp.

Specialists (3): Jamie Gillan, Charley Hughlett, Chase McLaughlin

Analysis: McLaughlin was perfect in the first two preseason games before he missed a 56-yarder and a PAT in the final preseason game. Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer believes Gillan, a lefty punter who's 24 years old, "can be one of the top punters in the league if he stays healthy and does what he is supposed to do."