Which Browns players are worth keeping for 2017?

Fans of the Cleveland Browns are used to closing the proverbial book on the season before the calendar hits December. 2016 will be the ninth straight losing season for the Browns and the 14th straight season which will end without a playoff trip. They have had only one season with more than seven wins over that time span, and this particular season has seen the team go through 12 games without a single win.

However, as every book closes, a new one emerges in the promise (or curse) of a new season forthcoming. HBT has announced The Plan and we are left figuring out how it might lead us back to respectability. Here the focus shall be on the players worth watching through the end of the season and which ones should be retained moving forward.

Yes, this exercise was done last December as well here with varying results. Terrelle Pryor was expected to be a roster casualty (he had yet to play a snap) and Johnny Manziel was expected to be retained (it was written just after the San Francisco and Kansas City games but before the trip to Las Vegas). We said Taylor Gabriel would be sent elsewhere, and while we were right, he’s proving everyone wrong, fitting in rather well within Atlanta’s scheme.

There were plenty of hits too, but those are not nearly as fun. With a year’s worth of learning, here is this year’s attempt at creating next season’s roster.

High quality = Minimum of a likely starter on at least half of NFL teams
Roster worthy = Minimum of a likely 53-man roster player on at least half of NFL teams
Good luck elsewhere = Might as well try someone else to see what the can provide

Cleveland Browns Offense

Position: Quarterback

High Quality: None
Roster Worthy: Cody Kessler, Robert Griffin III
Good Luck Elsewhere: Josh McCown, Kevin Hogan

I can certainly be sold on just rebooting the whole quarterback position and starting over. The biggest issue there is that there is not an obvious quarterback to pick with the No. 1 overall selection, so the Browns might best be served keeping RG3 on his team option, Kessler to see if he can build up some arm strength, and drafting another mid-round QB.

Position: Wide Receiver

High Quality: Terrelle Pryor, Corey Coleman
Roster Worthy: Ricardo Louis
Good Luck Elsewhere: Andrew Hawkins, Rashard Higgins, Jordan Payton

Coleman’s inclusion as high quality is more speculation that he would be doing more on an established offense. The rest of the rookie wide receivers are likely to stay and see if they can develop over the offseason, which is the correct way to do it, but it is not like Payton and Higgins have shown anything on the field to do such with confidence.

Position: Running back

High Quality: None
Roster Worthy: Duke Johnson, Isaiah Crowell
Good Luck Elsewhere: Glenn Winston, George Atkinson III, Danny Vitale

Johnson is a good pass catching back, so he would have a place on most any NFL team. Crowell can point to the first few weeks to say that the fault of his collapse is the OL, but he could find himself on thin ice this offseason too. All should readily agree that the position could use an influx of new talent though there are bigger needs.

Position: Offensive Line

High Quality: Joe Thomas, Joel Bitonio
Roster Worthy: John Greco, Austin Pasztor, Austin Reiter, Spencer Drango
Good Luck Elsewhere: Cameron Erving, Alvin Bailey, Shon Coleman, Jonathan Cooper, Gabe Ikard

Shon Coleman finds himself in the same place as the rookie wide receivers in that he’ll be given another year to prove he isn’t yet another draft bust. Not a promising sign that he cannot crack playing time given the absurd levels of suck the OL has shown. Reiter could have been on the line above but he did not have nearly enough playing time before getting hurt to warrant such. Greco and Pasztor continue to be solid depth, but poor starters. They might just need to be rolled out for one more year (hopefully, only as backups).

Position: Tight End

High Quality: Gary Barnidge
Roster Worthy: Seth DeValve
Good Luck Elsewhere: Randall Telfer

Given the issues the team has had, Barnidge having an incredibly disappointing season when he was THE veteran the FO decided to re-sign is disheartening. He is still a guy to rely on considering his ability. DeValve has shown some glimpses, while Telfer has not. So, it’ll be interesting to see how much time Telfer is given before bringing in a new project.

Cleveland Browns Defense

Shop for officially licensed Cleveland Browns Fan Gear, accessories and authentic collectibles at Shop.ClevelandBrowns.comPosition: Safety

High Quality: None
Roster Worthy: Ibraheim Campbell, Derrick Kindred, Jordan Poyer
Good Luck Elsewhere:

How about drafting a free safety high in the NFL Draft? Philadelphia’s pick current sits at No. 13 overall and that might be enough to change the Browns safety position as someone like Malik Hooker could be there for the having. (You know, if he decides to change his mind.)

Position: Cornerback

High Quality: None
Roster Worthy: Briean Boddy-Calhoun, Jamar Taylor, Tracy Howard
Good Luck Elsewhere: Joe Haden, Marcus Burley, Ed Reynolds, Tramon Williams

Putting Haden there hurt. He is such a good guy, but he has consistently been a poor cornerback for two straight years now and is incredibly overpaid. I doubt he comes back to the Browns at a renegotiated bargain basement price, so expect a team like New Orleans to try to resurrect his old skills. The rest of the group is uninspiring. Given this group’s desire to build from the outside in, expect a possible DB run like HBT did on wide receivers in 2016.

Position: Linebacker

High Quality: Jamie Collins, Christian Kirksey
Roster Worthy: Nate Orchard, Emmanuel Ogbah, Joe Schobert
Good Luck Elsewhere: Corey Lemonier, Cam Johnson, Demario Davis, Dominique Alexander, Tank Carder

Legitimate excitement out of the play from Collins and Kirksey this season. The only problem is that the OLB might be a more crucial role. Orchard, Ogbah, and Schobert have been meh. Not worth scrapping, not worth expecting them to be the starting answer. Just meh. Davis was one of the first additions of this new regime, and will likely get a second year. This doesn’t mean he should.

Position: Defensive Line

High Quality: None
Roster Worthy: Danny Shelton, Jamie Meder, Carl Nassib
Good Luck Elsewhere: Xavier Cooper, Tyrone Holmes, Stephen Paea, Gabe Wright

Shelton could be placed in the high quality bin. I’d like to see him get that push a little more consistently before he gets it though. Ashland Eagle Jamie Meder provides solid depth, and Nassib joins the Meh Club despite a solid start to his rookie season.

Cleveland Browns Special Teams

Position: Kicker, Punter, Long-Snapper

High Quality: None
Roster Worthy: Charley Hughlett
Good Luck Elsewhere: Cody Parkey, Britton Colquitt

The new special teams coach is going to want to bring in his own guys.

Your Turn

There have to be players who you do not agree with their categorization. Let me know where I have it wrong and why in the comments, while keeping in mind the Before You Comment guidelines. Enjoy.