In the downtime between minicamp and training camp, national NFL sites go through a myriad of ideas of ways to cover the league. For Cleveland Browns fans, at least the most vocal, none of it matters or is interesting. Until the team proves it on the field, many fans are, rightfully, jaded.
Pro Football Focus found another interesting way to cover the NFL, specifically NFL rosters, by taking a look at pairs of players in the same position. Rarely do teams have two very good players at the same position as the salary cap often makes that difficult. There are some rare exceptions, however.
Looking ahead to 2023, PFF had some easy choices like WRs Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle and Cleveland’s guards Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller.
Scanning the list for any other Browns duos, specifically looking to see if Myles Garrett and either Za’Darius Smith or Ogbonnia Okoronkwo made the list, we skipped right past the other set from Cleveland:
TIGHT END: DAVID NJOKU AND JORDAN AKINS, CLEVELAND BROWNS
Instead, we’re going with the Browns here after adding Jordan Akins from the Houston Texans. Both Njoku and newcomer Akins are coming off career years in 2022. Njoku put up a PFF grade of 73.7 with a 78.7 receiving grade and a 76.3 pass-blocking grade while catching 58 passes for 628 yards and four touchdowns. Akins put up similar numbers with a 72.4 PFF grade, 74.3 receiving grade while recording career highs in PFF grade (72.4), catches (37), yards (495), and touchdowns (five).
Njoku has yet to have the huge explosive career year to enter the echelon of Travis Kelce, George Kittle and Mark Andrews but is well thought of around the league. Akins, on the other hand, had a very quiet career and has still never eclipsed 500 yards receiving or had more than five touchdowns in a season.
That Njoku and Akins are the best due of tight ends in the league says much more about the quality depth at the position than about their excellence. Perhaps Njoku finally has a breakout season (current career highs are 639 yards and four touchdowns) and Akins remains steady in 2023. Even if that happens, it is underwhelming at this point that those two are the best duo in the league.
Not a lot has to be said about Bitonio and Teller. While an injury limited Teller last season, the pair is the gold standard in the NFL right now.
How surprised are you about Njoku and Akins making the list? How unsurprised are you about the two guards?