Browns Roster Breakdown: Tight End

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INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - SEPTEMBER 22: Austin Hooper #81 of the Atlanta Falcons warms up before the start of the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 22, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

Do you think new Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski likes tight ends? Andrew Berry sure does. The Browns not only signed the best tight on the free-agent market in Austin Hooper, but they also took the Mackey award winner for the best tight end in college Harrison Bryant. Even after bringing two talented players aboard, the Browns still pick up David Njoku‘s fifth-year option. So to answer the initial question, yes, Kevin Stefanski likes tight ends. So who else will challenge for roster spots in 2020?

Austin Hooper

2019 season (Falcons): Games: 13 | Receptions: 75 | Yards: 787 | Yards per catch: 10.5 | Touchdowns: 6

Hooper, as stated above, was brought to Cleveland on the richest contract for a tight end in NFL history. You don’t pay a guy like that if you don’t expect to start him. Over the last two seasons, Hooper has 146 receptions for 1,447 yards and ten touchdowns establishing himself as one of the top tight ends in the NFL. If he can stay healthy, 2020 might end up being his best season yet.

Hooper comes into an offense that has been producing stars since its inception under Mike Shanahan in Denver. From Shannon Sharpe to now Greg Kittle under Kyle Shanahan tight ends have put up numbers in the zone offense. Hooper now has that chance under Kevin Stefanski. It is also likely that Hooper’s touchdown numbers will climb in 2020 as Baker has thrown 17 of his 49 career touchdowns to tight ends.

David Njoku

Tight End
Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku (85) celebrates his touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore, Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)

2019 season : Games: 4 | Receptions: 5 | Yards: 41| Yards per catch: 8.2 | Touchdowns: 1

The Browns pick up Njoku’s fifth-year option, but this is still a big year for the young tight end. Even with Austin Hooper brought in, the opportunity is there as Stefanski ran two tight ends nearly 57% of the time last season. Njoku is still only 23 years old and is a physically gifted player. This system could be just what he needs to take the next step and become a star in the NFL.

Harrison Bryant

2019 season (Florida Atlantic): Games: 13 | Receptions: 65 | Yards: 1004 | Yards per catch: 15.4 | Touchdowns: 7

The Browns shocked a lot of people drafting Bryant in the fourth round of the NFL Draft. This pick was proof Andrew Berry and his staff will take the player they deem the best player available based on the depth they already had at tight end. Over the course of his college career, Bryant caught 148 balls for 2,137 yards and 16 touchdowns. Bryant also averaged 14.4 yards per catch over that time, showing his ability to get downfield for big plays. The Browns hope that Bryant can be the same playmaker at the NFL level.

The rest of the group

Pharaoh Brown

Brown is a 6’6′ 260 pound blocking tight end that has been with the Browns for the last two seasons. Over those two seasons, Brown has only two receptions for 27 yards. The only way he stays on this roster is if his blocking skills warrant keeping him on as a fourth tight end.

Stephen Carlson

Carlson made some plays in 2019, like his first catch for a touchdown, but overall made little impact. He does, however, fall into the size and ability window the front office seems to like at 6’4′ 240 with strong receiving skills. The Browns could keep him on as a fourth tight end or try to sneak him onto the practice squad.

Nate Wieting

Wieting is an undrafted free agent out of Iowa who’s forte is blocking. With only ten receptions last year and 13 for his career, Nate is a long shot to make the team. Anything can happen, and Wieting can block, so maybe he beats out Pharaoh as a blocker and provides something Carlson doesn’t to crash the roster as a fourth tight end. If nothing else, Weiting will have the chance to show 31 other teams what he can do, maybe grabbing a spot with another club. The practice squad is always an option also.

All Browns Roster Breakdowns:


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