In this multi-part series, we will look deeper at each position group on the Cleveland Browns roster. Today we will be covering the special teams.
Cleveland Brown’s head coach Kevin Stefanski loves his tight ends. Stefanski uses two tight ends simultaneously throughout a game, so this position is essential for the Cleveland Browns.
When Stefanski was hired in the winter of 2020, the Cleveland Browns tight end room was coming off a horrible 2019 season. David Njoku was supposed to be the number one tight end but ended up getting hurt early in the season and missing most of that year. The rest of the tight end room was just a giant mess, so Stefanski and general manager Andrew Berry knew they must upgrade that position drastically.
The Cleveland Brown’s first free agent signing in 2020 was Austin Hooper, who spent his first four seasons with the Atlanta Falcons. Hooper was maybe the best free agent tight end in the 2020 class, and the Cleveland Browns made sure to sign him.
Hooper was a solid addition for the 2020 season and played a massive role in getting the Cleveland Browns to the playoffs. Still, his 2021 season was a disaster, and he ended up getting released this offseason and signing with the Tennessee Titans.
Now that Hooper is out the door and was the Cleveland Brown’s number one tight end for the last two seasons, it’s time for someone else to step up, and it must be David Njoku.
Njoku came out of the University of Miami and was Cleveland Brown’s third first-round pick in the 2017 draft. Njoku went into the NFL very young, only 20 years old when he was drafted, and he had a lot of raw talent and upside.
Njoku has shown over his first five NFL seasons that he can make some of the most incredible catches and drop catches that hit him right in the hands. Njoku’s consistency has been a nightmare, and it will need to change if the Browns move the ball and score points this season.
Njoku requested a trade from the Cleveland Browns in the summer of 2020 when it looked like he would be the third tight end on the roster. He ended up sticking it out for the last two seasons, and this offseason, he signed a four-year contract extension for $56.75M. He is now the number one tight end in the room, and he sure is being paid like one of the best in the league.
Harrison Bryant looks to be the number two tight end on the roster, and he will have quite the role. Bryant was 115th in the fourth round of the 2020 draft from Florida Atlantic. Bryant won the 2019 John Mackey Award for the best tight end in college football.
Through Bryant’s first two seasons, he has never stood out on the field. He makes plays here and there, but it just seems like something is missing about him. One reason why could be he was the third tight end on the roster behind Hooper and Njoku. Now that Hooper is gone and nobody is competing for the second tight end, it’s Bryant’s job to lose.
Bryant’s role will increase, and especially in the first 11 games of the year, the Cleveland Browns will need both Njoku and Bryant out there helping out starting quarterback Jacoby Brissett. I think Bryant will have a little more impact than he did in his first two seasons, but I don’t think it will be anything to get crazy about.
Who Will Be The Third Tight End?
The third tight end for the Browns is a giant mystery. The third tight end looks to be Miller Forristall, but a lot could change here over the next week. Forristall is out of the University of Alabama and was an undrafted free agent signed by the Tennessee Titans in 2021. He was released by the Titans last year and signed to the Cleveland Browns practice squad. He spent time going back and forth between the practice squad and active roster in 2021 and got to dress for two games.
Johnny Stanton is the Cleveland Brown’s fullback, but he’s listed on the Cleveland Brown’s depth chart under tight end, so that’s where I will put him. Stanton will make the roster the only fullback, and he has some excellent hands for being a fullback. He can make some plays with his hands, so that will be something Browns fans can look forward to this upcoming season.
The Cleveland Browns also have two other tight ends in camp Nakia Griffin-Stewart and Zaire Mitchell-Paden, who look to be the odd men out on the roster at this moment.
Outlook For The Season
The outlook for the season could be a promising one. Njoku has tons of talent, and he needs to stay consistent. He should have a great year. Bryant should step into that number two tight end role, and when his number is called, he needs to make some plays. The tight ends will be essential to be security blankets for Brissett and help that underwhelming wide receiver room.
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