The Browns may be settling on their defensive tackle rotation.
We haven’t even gotten into pre-season football yet, let alone the regular season, so all of this is way too early to draw any definitive conclusions. That said, the Browns early-training-camp rotation group for the defensive tackles is looking to be a little veteran-heavy. According to Scott Patsko of Cleveland.com, the defensive tackles have been getting reps in three different groupings.
The first grouping is of the obvious suspects, two of whom are most likely to start; Malik Jackson, and Andrew Billings with the third being Sheldon Day. Day has been a surprise, as he was a practice squad signing in December of 2020 and is now in contention to make the final 53 man roster.
The second group is a bit younger but does have one older piece. This group is made up of Malik McDowell, Jordan Elliott, and Damion Square. Elliot seems most likely to make the team as he was a Browns’ draft pick in 2020, and with Square a perpetual backup now over 30, and McDowell a beyond-troubled player, it really makes no sense why the team would role with those two at any point this year.
The third grouping is the youngest of the three groups, with two rookies in Tommy Togiai and Marvin Wilson. It’s possible Wilson makes the team but more than likely he’s looking at a practice squad spot.
Assuming these groupings are based on talent quality, with the most impressive in the first group and the least in the third group, the Browns are going to have to make some tough cuts.
The Browns are going to have to cut down to four or five players at the position
The Browns have eight defensive tackles and at least half of them are going to have to get cut. Malik Jackson, Andrew Billings, Sheldon Day, Malik McDowell, Jordan Elliott, Damion Square, Tommy Togiai, and Marvin Wilson all have some value to the team going forward, making it hard to narrow down who will be let go.
Originally we predicted the team would carry just four defensive tackles and that was before the emergence of Sheldon Day. The original four we picked were Jackson, Billings, Elliot, and Togiai. That now leads us to an interesting situation, because unless the Browns carry five defensive tackles on the main roster, which seems unlikely, that means that either Day, Togiai, or Elliot is going to be among those cut.
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It’s too early to say which players are going to be kept, and we’ll know better after the second pre-season game, but if Day is warranting time with the first-stringers, fans should be ready for a surprising departure. Considering Elliot’s lackluster rookie season, it’s very possible he’s the odd-man-out.
We don’t need to worry about the others making the team. McDowell has a history of concerning behavior and the Browns’ can’t afford to take a flyer on someone so unreliable in such an important season. So he’s gone. Damon Square was never good enough to be a full-time starter during his prime, so how good can he be now? Marvin Wilson is an undrafted free agent, so there’s no real harm in cutting him. That leaves Billings, Jackson, Togiai, Elliot and, Day. Of those four, Billings, Jackson and Day are the first-teamers, while Togiai is the proverbial rookie with “unlimited potential” at the position. Since you don’t know what he can be, you aren’t likely to cut that kind of player.
There’s a chance that Jackson or Day is ultimately cut but the Browns aren’t going to keep Elliot around just because they drafted him. There are now players with better prospects than Elliot and others who offer more potential.
That said, coaches make unbelievable decisions all the time so it’s very possible Elliot is retained.