The Cleveland Browns have the second-youngest roster in the NFL and they’ll be relying on the large number of rookies and sophomores.
The Browns have a whopping 17 rookies and an additional 12 sophomores. For those keeping track, that means 55% of the Cleveland roster is in their first or second season in the NFL. For comparison, the Patriots have 9 rookies and 10 sophomores on the active roster (36%).
When we look at the different sides of the ball, we get a picture of an extremely young defensive unit. 40.1% of all defensive snaps have come from players in their first or second season in the NFL, with most of those snaps coming on the defensive line. While 68.3% of the Browns defensive line snaps are by young players, the secondary and linebackers are actually have plenty of NFL experience.
Just 28.5% of the offensive snaps come from younger players, with veterans along the offensive line (except for at center) and at the key starter positions. While the primary starter might be a veteran, the back-up players are almost exclusively in their first or second seasons, with RB Duke Johnson, TE Randall Telfer, and WRs Corey Coleman and Ricardo Louis playing heavy snaps.
Oh, and they have a rookie quarterback in Cody Kessler. That seems important.
52.9% of special teams snaps are by rookies or sophomores, although former Patriots DB Don Jones is one of the team leaders. A reliance on younger players could leave the Browns open to some special teams mishaps.
The Patriots have actually had actually had a rookie and sophomore heavy offense over the first four weeks of the year, with 37.0% of the snaps going to QB Jacoby Brissett, OGs Joe Thuney and Ted Karras, and WR Malcolm Mitchell (and 4 more snaps to RB D.J. Foster).
A mere 19.2% of snaps have gone to young players on defense, with DT Malcolm Brown as the only starter; DT Vincent Valentine, ED Trey Flowers, and CBs Cyrus Jones and Justin Coleman are the 3rd players in the rotation at their positions.
34.4% of special teams snaps are by rookies or sophomores, with DBs Brandon King and Jonathan Jones serving as core four players. Specialists like LB Barkevious Mingo (former Cleveland Brown!), S Nate Ebner, WR Matthew Slater, and RB Brandon Bolden ensure the players have veteran leadership.
The Browns are going to have their hands full with so much youth on the roster, but the make-up isn’t too different from the Patriots on offense and defense (34.4% for the Browns, 28.0% for the Patriots). It will be up the veterans on both sides to carry the day.