The Cleveland Browns offense should present a different look in 2023 after the team made additions to the wide receiver room.
Following the trade for Elijah Moore, the Browns have a solid three-man set at the position, meaning the days of running with two tight ends may be on the decline.
The majority of the snaps at tight end will go to David Njoku, with Harrison Bryant and the newly signed Jordan Akins competing for what is left over. Neither Bryant nor Akins is much of a consistent difference maker, however, which could lead general manager Andrew Berry to select a tight end in the later rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft.
One possible name to keep an eye on, thanks to Dane Brugler’s seven-round mock draft at The Athletic, is Cincinnati tight end Josh Whyle, so let’s take a look at what Whyle brings to the table.
Name: Josh Whyle
Position: Tight end
Height/Weight: 6-foot-6, 248 pounds
College: Cincinnati Bearcats
Stats (5 seasons): 52 games, 20 starts, 88 receptions, 1,062 yards, 15 touchdowns, 6 dropped passes
Relative Athletic Score
Josh Whyle is a TE prospect in the 2023 draft class. He scored a 8.98 #RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 114 out of 1104 TE from 1987 to 2023. https://t.co/ZK08rOv0Hl pic.twitter.com/ZGtJphWvs2— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 16, 2023
Average “Big Board” Position As of Publishing Date
156th Overall (NFL Mock Draft Database)
TDN Consensus Grade: 72/100 (Fourth-Round Value)
PFF Big Board Rank: 200
What an Expert is Saying
TE Josh Whyle is a great chain mover with blocking upside! pic.twitter.com/YAAl5C0z53— John Chapman (@JL_Chapman) April 16, 2023
Pros and Cons
Josh Whyle is a “smooth, athletic pass-catcher with the competitiveness to battle” for a roster spot at the next level, according to NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein. His height makes him a mismatch against defensive backs, but he still needs to continue to add some strength if he wants to earn significant playing time.
Even though his numbers may not look that impressive, Whyle catches the ball when targeted, according to The Draft Network’s Joe Marino:
Whyle is a good athlete that shines in the passing game where his hands, body control, and ball skills are top traits. He is a good route-runner that can win at every level of the field. His ability to snap through route breaks and produce after the catch are surprising qualities given his body composition. Whyle’s blend of size and ball skills make him a legitimate seam threat. Whyle is sure-handed and has made his share of highlight-reel grabs outside of his frame in addition to handling the routine receptions.
One area that could be problematic is Whyle’s injury history, which includes a fractured collarbone in 2018, an ankle injury in 2019, and a Lisfranc injury in 2021. There is not much you can do to prevent a broken bone, but that history may scare off some teams.
One of the knocks on Cincinnati TE Josh Whyle was that he wasn’t a sufficient blocker. Having added some weight he certainly took care of business here. Even with a jump step Andre Carter couldn’t cope with him.#SeniorBowl #NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/10FnoB9Sua— Owain Jones (@Owain_Jones_) February 1, 2023
Browns Player Drafting Could Impact
Bryant, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract, would be the first name out of the mouths of many fans as Bryant hasn’t been all that special in his three seasons with the Browns, although his pass blocking showed marked improvement last season and he appears to have gotten over the fumbling issues that were a lowlight of his rookie season.
The Browns also added Akins in free agency this offseason, and while he has a history with quarterback Deshaun Watson from their time together with the Houston Texans, his contract is not necessarily one that the Browns could not move on from if they were to bring another tight end on board in the draft.
Low: There are only so many offensive snaps to go around, and with the Browns adding to the wide receiver room this offseason, the number of overall targets available to tight ends may be in decline, and those that are available should be claimed by Njoku.
In some ways, Whyle is basically just a new version of Bryant, so selecting him could be a redundancy, but if the Browns are enamored with another tall tight end, they could be tempted to call Whyle’s name at some point on Saturday, give him a year to build up his body, and then have him take over for Bryant or Akins in 2024.