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Early 2021 Cleveland Browns' 53-man roster projection

With the start of the 2021 NFL season nearly three months away, we take a look at the Cleveland Browns' potential 53-man roster.

CLEVELAND — Editor's note: the video in the player above is from a previous story.

With organized team activities (OTAs) across the league underway, the start of the 2021 NFL season is nearly three months away. With that in mind, let's project what the Cleveland Browns' 53-man roster might look like heading into their Week 1 matchup vs. the Kansas City Chiefs.

RELATED: More Cleveland Browns coverage from WKYC

Quarterback (2)

  1. Baker Mayfield
  2. Case Keenum

The Browns carried just two quarterbacks on their roster throughout last season and there's no reason to think 2021 will be any different. Baker Mayfield returns for his fourth season as Cleveland's starter with veteran Case Keenum serving as his understudy for the second straight year.

Running back (4)

  • Nick Chubb
  • Kareem Hunt
  • Demetric Felton
  • Andy Janovich (Fullback)

The Browns' selection of Demetric Felton likely created a competition between the sixth-round pick and D'Ernest Johnson for Cleveland's third running back spot. Being a sixth-round pick doesn't guarantee that Felton will be the winner, but it does likely give him the inside track.

Credit: AP
Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb (24) plays against the Pittsburgh Steelers in an NFL wild-card playoff football game, Sunday, Jan. 10, 2021, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Wide receiver (6)

  1. Jarvis Landry
  2. Odell Beckham Jr.
  3. Rashard Higgins
  4. Donovan Peoples-Jones
  5. Anthony Schwartz
  6. JoJo Natson (returner)

KhaDarel Hodge remains a restricted free agent but even if he returns to the Browns, it may be tough for him to find a roster spot. Barring any trades, Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham Jr. and Anthony Schwartz are locks to make Cleveland's 53-man roster while Rashard Higgins and Donovan Peoples-Jones already have established track records with Mayfield.

An open wide receiver roster spot could come open, however, should the Browns opt for a kick returner other than JoJo Natson.

Tight end (4)

  1. Austin Hooper
  2. David Njoku
  3. Harrison Bryant
  4. Stephen Carlson

Head coach Kevin Stefanski's reliance on tight ends will likely require Cleveland to carry four on its roster. Austin Hooper, David Njoku and Harrison Bryant are practical locks to make the Week 1 roster, while the waiver wire could eventually lead to the Browns replacing Stephen Carlson.

Offensive line (9)

  1. Jedrick Wills Jr.
  2. Joel Bitonio
  3. J.C. Tretter
  4. Wyatt Teller
  5. Jack Conklin
  6. James Hudson III
  7. Nick Harris
  8. Chris Hubbard
  9. Michael Dunn

The Browns return all five starters from last year's offensive line, as well as some newfound depth at tackle in the form of fourth-round pick James Hudson III. Chris Hubbard's ability to play tackle or guard, as well as Nick Harris' ability to play center or guard, gives Cleveland some versatility and could result in guards Michael Dunn, Blake Hance and Drew Forbes battling it out for the final reserve spot. Here, I give the edge to Dunn due to his upside and ability to also play tackle.

Credit: AP
Cleveland Browns offensive tackle Jedrick Wills (71) blocks during an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, in Cleveland. The Ravens won 47-42. (AP Photo/David Richard)

Defensive line (9)

  1. Myles Garrett
  2. Jadeveon Clowney
  3. Takkarist McKinley
  4. Porter Gustin
  5. Curtis Weaver
  6. Malik Jackson
  7. Andrew Billings
  8. Tommy Togiai
  9. Jordan Elliott

The Browns will welcome three new starters on their defensive line including three-time Pro Bowl edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney. Former first-round pick Takkarist McKinley adds another high upside pass-rush option, but must overcome the injuries and inconsistencies that have plagued his career. Similarly, Cleveland has high hopes for former Boise State Curtis Weaver, who spent his entire rookie season on injured reserve.

On the inside, Cleveland has overhauled its defensive tackle room by taking flyers on a number of high-upside options. Veterans Andrew Billings and Malik Jackson may prove to be the Browns' most consistent pairing, with second-year player Jordan Elliott and 2021 fourth-round pick Tommy Togiai providing young depth.

Linebacker (6)

  1. Anthony Walker Jr.
  2. Jacob Phillips
  3. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah
  4. Sione Takitaki
  5. Tony Fields II
  6. Malcom Smith

It's been an active offseason at linebacker for the Browns, who used a second-round pick on Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, a fifth-round pick on Tony Fields II, signed free agent Anthony Walker Jr. and re-signed veteran Malcom Smith. Cleveland's active offseason could leave Mack Wilson on the outside looking in after an inconsistent 2020 season for the 2019 fifth-round pick.

Cornerback (6)

  1. Denzel Ward
  2. Greg Newsome II
  3. Greedy Williams
  4. Troy Hill
  5. M.J. Stewart
  6. A.J. Green

The Browns used their first pick in the 2021 draft on Greg Newsome II and expect 2019 second-round pick Greedy Williams to return from the shoulder injury that cost him his entire 2020 season. Free-agent signee Troy Hill will play nickel, although his versatility could help save a roster spot for M.J. Stewart, who played inside for Cleveland last season. While he spent most of the 2020 season on the Browns' practice squad, A.J. Green could find a roster spot as a special teams contributor.

Credit: AP
Cleveland Browns cornerback Greg Newsome II runs a drill during an NFL football rookie minicamp at the team's training camp facility, Friday, May 14, 2021, in Berea, Ohio. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Safety (4)

  1. John Johnson III
  2. Grant Delpit
  3. Ronnie Harrison Jr.
  4. Richard LeCounte III

John Johnson III served as the Browns' top free-agent signee while 2020 second-round pick Grant Delpit is set to return from a torn Achilles injury that cost him his entire rookie season. Cleveland's selection of fifth-round pick RIchard LeCounte II could bring an end to Sheldrick Redwine's time with the Browns.

Special teams (3)

  1. Cody Parkey (Kicker)
  2. Jamie Gillan (Punter)
  3. Charley Hughlett (Holder)

Cody Parkey, Jamie Gillan and Charley Hughlett each return to their respective roles from 2020.

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