It’s time to look at the tight ends on the Cleveland Browns’ roster as we preview the team leading up to training camp. We start with the top three players at the position in Part 1.
1. David Njoku - Starting Tight End
Height: 6-4 | Weight: 246 lbs | Age: 22
Experience: 2 years | College: Miami
David Njoku had a ton of hype surrounding him in the offseason programs that immediately followed the 2017 NFL Draft. Expectations were sky high that he was going to be making athletic catches left and right. Then training camp came around, and he started to show some consistency issues with his hands.
Njoku’s regular season was a mixed bag. My hope was that he would be able to utilize his athleticism to make tough, contested catches, but there weren’t enough of those plays as a rookie. A lot of it had to do with poor quarterback play, but the best way I can describe my disappointment in him is that I expected his talent to be able to overcome the team’s shortcomings at quarterback. In other words, I put it on Njoku to be a difference maker, and that didn’t come to fruition.
I’m still a big believer in his ability to have a breakout sophomore season. Here is a nice compilation of what Cleveland needs to see from Njoku on a more regular basis:
David Njoku = TE1— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) March 31, 2018
-81st-percentile SPARQ-x score
-1 of 11 TEs with 8+ catches of 20+ yards in 2017 pic.twitter.com/dfC2lJj6VZ
Final Roster Odds: 100%
2. Seth DeValve - Backup Pass-Catching Tight End
Height: 6-3 | Weight: 245 lbs | Age: 25
Experience: 3 years | College: Princeton
After Duke Johnson, Seth DeValve was the Browns’ leading receiver in 2017 with 33 catches for 395 yards and 1 touchdown (his stats were nearly identical to those of Njoku). This will be an interesting year for DeValve, who has shown the skills to be a legitimate receiving threat from the tight end spot, but who I’m not sure will see the same amount of reps in 2018. I believe David Njoku will be more prominently featured as the receiving threat, and that new blocking tight end Darren Fells will be paired with him.
Browns tight ends coach Greg Seamon did make a point in saying that they feel the team will be able to give DeValve more downfield opportunities this year as opposed to having him run shorter routes so often:
“His ability to run routes down the field is an area where I see real improvement. We used him last year, and it was not his fault, we asked a lot for him within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage, and he did that well, but he runs well. We are working hard out here to get all of the tight ends stretching the field a little bit more vertically because we have guys that can throw the ball accurately down the field.”
Final Roster Odds: 99%
3. Darren Fells - Backup Blocking Tight End
Height: 6-7 | Weight: 270 lbs | Age: 32
Experience: 5 years | College: California-Irvine
Darren Fells got a late start to his NFL career as he was a college basketball player (you don’t often see players who are 32 years old, but with just 5 years of experience). He was with the Arizona Cardinals from 2014-2016 before starting for the Detroit Lions last year. He is known as a blocking tight end, but has good height (6’7”) to be a red zone target. In his four years in the NFL, he’s totaled 57 catches for 713 yards and 7 touchdowns.
According to Pro Football Focus, Fells is a clear blocking upgrade over Randall Telfer, who is no longer with the club.
Final Roster Odds: 99%
Which tight end do you think sees more snaps in 2018?
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