With our wide receiver previews complete, it is time to turn our attention to the tight end position. This will be broken down into two parts, starting with Austin Hooper, David Njoku, and Harrison Bryant.
1. Austin Hooper - Starting TE
Height: 6-4 | Weight: 254 lbs | Age: 25
Experience: 5 years | College: Stanford
This offseason, the Browns made a surprising splash at the tight end position by signing TE Austin Hooper to a 4-year, $42 million deal with $18.5 million fully guaranteed. With TE David Njoku still on the team, it seemed pretty clear that Kevin Stefanski felt he needed a more reliable tight end like Hooper to boost Cleveland’s offense.
Hooper was a 3rd round pick by the Falcons in 2016. In his four years with Atlanta, he caught 214 passes for 2,244 yards and 16 touchdowns and was a Pro Bowler the past two seasons. His productivity over the past two years was solid, averaging 73 catches, 723 yards, and 5 touchdowns.
With David Njoku asking for a trade, Austin Hooper’s reliable hands are primed for a larger role:— PFF CLE Browns (@PFF_Browns) July 3, 2020
Hooper (drops/catchable targets/rank)
2018 (2/73/6th best out of 41)
2019 (2/77/6th best out of 44)
Njoku (drops/catchable targets/rank)
2018 (8/64/41st out of 41)
2019 (2/7/NA) pic.twitter.com/my9k3c7I5Z
As a receiver, Hooper has reliable hands, sees a lot of red zone targets, and is good at forcing missed tackles. Pro Football Focus does note that he is below average in creating separation against man coverage — his strengths are all against zone coverage, relying on a good offensive scheme (but on the same note, he also scored well in catching contested passes). If you’re expecting him to be a terrific run blocking tight end, don’t. He gives good effort on his blocks and blocks fairly well in pass protection, but not so well in run blocking.
Final Roster Odds: 100%
2. David Njoku - Requested a Trade
Height: 6-4 | Weight: 246 lbs | Age: 24
Experience: 4 years | College: Miami
We thought David Njoku was poised for big things last year. In 2018, he caught 56 passes for 639 yards and 4 touchdowns. Last year, he suffered a wrist injury and then fell into the same boat as Rashard Higgins in terms of being marginalized in the offense. He finished the season with 5 catches for 41 yards and 1 touchdown.
It has been frustrating with Njoku. I love his athletic potential, but he is about to enter his fourth season, and I still don’t feel like he has come anywhere close to realizing that potential on gameday. One of the big issues is that too many times, a dropped pass leads to something catastrophic; heck, on his first target returning from injury last year, the pass ended up being intercepted/fumbled. Blocking hasn’t been Njoku’s strength either.
Upon hiring Drew Rosenhaus a few weeks ago, Njoku immediately requested a trade prior to the start of training camp. Jeremy Fowler of ESPN has said that the team has known that Njoku was unhappy, and the estimated compensation another team would be willing to give up is a 4th or 5th round pick.
The Browns have known for about a year that David Njoku was unhappy in Cleveland and would welcome a trade, I’m told. They were not blindsided by this. Early predictions from sources with other teams is Njoku might be worth a 4th or 5th round pick.— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) July 4, 2020
Josina Anderson believes the Browns still have plans for the fourth-year tight end, and they also picked up the fifth year on his rookie deal back in April. I really don’t have a good pulse as to whether or not he’ll remain with the club in 2020. I think the team should keep him as an extra weapon, especially since Kevin Stefanski likes deploying two tight-end sets.
My understanding is TE David Njoku remains a big part of the #Browns plans, going back to the winter & the transition in the organization. The belief is Njoku can have a great year still for this team. But I'm also told by a source that Njoku, "been wanted out." Bears monitoring.— IG: JosinaAnderson (@JosinaAnderson) July 6, 2020
Final Roster Odds: 100% (if he is not traded)
3. Harrison Bryant - Rookie TE
Height: 6-5 | Weight: 243 lbs | Age: 22
Experience: Rookie | College: Florida Atlantic
The Browns selected Harrison Bryant with a 4th round pick in this year’s draft. He was the third-highest ranked tight end on Dane Brugler’s board, who had this to say about him:
Bryant lined up at “F” tight end in head coach Lane Kiffin’s spread offense, occasionally seeing snaps inline, but mostly detached. ... He is an athletic receiver with the agility and ball skills to be productive in the quick game (slants, hooks, etc.) or down the seam. He is an efficient, try-hard competitor as a move blocker, but doesn’t have the power to face off against NFL defensive linemen on the edge. Overall, Bryant doesn’t have ideal bulk or power for the position, but he is a versatile pass-catcher with the savvy routes and adjustment skills to handle “F” tight end duties in an NFL offense.
Pro Football Focus says that he enters the NFL in no-mans land unless he transforms his body because he’s not athletic enough to be a wide receiver, but not strong enough to be a traditional tight end. Still, his 92.9 receiving grade is eye-popping. If you have any doubt about his receiving abilities, look no further than this:
Browns Assistant Director of Scouting Glenn Cook said that Bryant “is an athletic, natural sure-handed guy, really tough and competitive after the catch,” but added that “it got to the point where we were staring at the board and you kind of couldn’t ignore the fact that he was still up there.” In other words, the team liked his abilities, but view him as a bit of a project — when he slipped far enough, they were willing to gamble on him. I like the gamble, but unless the team ditches Njoku, I don’t see him seeing a lot of action this season.
Final Roster Odds: 95%
How many catches will Austin Hooper have in 2020?
This poll is closed
70 or more
Less than 70
Will David Njoku remain with the Browns for all of 2020, or will he be traded?
This poll is closed
He’ll stay with the Browns
He’ll be traded