Today's trade of Andre Davis to the Patriots clears up the Browns picture at wide receiver somewhat, but there are are still a number of players who will have to fight to make the team.
Antonio Bryant continues to hold down the Browns #1 WR job, and deservedly so, but Dennis Northcutt's hold on the starting #2 WR job is about to come under direct assault. Anyone who watched last week's game against the Lions saw new WR Braylon Edwards make an immediate impact, with several plays in addition to his game-winning touchdown that would make any observer take notice.
Edwards moves up to second-team in "tie" with WR Frisman Jackson in the latest version of the team's depth chart. We have maintained throughout that Edwards will be the #2 WR by the second regular-season game at the latest. After last weekend, that timetable looks conservative.
Richard Alston is listed now as the second-team receiver behind Bryant on the other side, and has to be watching over his shoulder at Josh Cribbs, a player we've been excited about since we broke word of his signing back in April.
We have continually maintained that Cribbs was a player to watch, and he has justified that confidence every step of the way. Like Alston, Cribbs is a multi-talented athlete, and his new role as the top kick-off returner - as well as excellent performance on special teams overall - has him just behind Alston on the depth chart as wide receiver, but, arguably, more likely to secure a roster spot. Alston remains a talented athlete who would be difficult to slip through waivers onto the practice squad.
Frisman Jackson, we feel, will soon find himself battling with Brandon Rideau for a third-team WR spot and will need to impress late to hold onto the job. At this point, Rideau has been more impressive to us already, showing good hands although he's made some raw rookie mistakes and needs to spend some time next off-season getting bigger. We feel that Rideau has more upside than Jackson, who was once considered a candidate to be the team's #3 WR. Jackson is a possible veteran release.
Lance Moore continues to be listed as a fourth-team WR, and has to hope that he can impress the Browns or other NFL coaches enough to grab onto a practice squad spot after rosters are cut down. C.J. Jones' best hope, by his own admission, was to make the team through his work on special teams, but he hasn't shown enough to date to make a move.
Here is our assessment based on the evidence that we have in front of us after two pre-season games. Players are listed in order of their likely ranking at the start of the regular season.
Roster locks: Antonio Bryant, Braylon Edwards, Dennis Northcutt,
Scuffling for position: Josh Cribbs, Richard Alston, Brandon Rideau, Frisman Jackson
Need to Impress Soon: C.J. Jones, Lance Moore