Cleveland Browns: The 4 offensive players with most to prove in 2021
The Cleveland Browns are poised to make some noise this upcoming season, but four offensive players have a lot to prove.
The Cleveland Browns offense returns all 11 starters from a season ago as well as the same head coach and offensive coordinator. This will be huge for quarterback Baker Mayfield as he looks to build on the success he enjoyed during the second half of last season.
Every player can make improvements from a year prior, and this Browns offense is no different. There are four offensive players who have the most to prove in 2021, especially if they can live up to the offseason hype and make a deep playoff run.
4. Austin Hooper, TE
Last offseason general manager Andrew Berry put his focus on building an offensive line around Mayfield to keep him upright. One of those offensive linemen was also a new weapon for Mayfield in tight end Austin Hooper.
The Browns made a huge splash by signing Hooper last year to a four-year, $42 million deal. Hooper spent his first four years in the NFL with the Falcons and really had breakout seasons in 2018 and 2019, earning Pro Bowl honors in those years.
In 2020, his first season with Cleveland, Hooper was up and down throughout the year. He started in all 13 games he played in, but his stats took a hit from the previous two years. He caught 46 passes on 70 targets for 435 yards and four touchdowns.
When he was in Atlanta, he was the primary tight end. In Cleveland, he shares the room with David Njoku and 2020 draft pick Austin Hooper. Depending on who you ask, Njoku, despite being frustrated and wanting out of Cleveland, was the Browns best tight end in 2020.
Hooper will look to prove he is worth the contract he signed and in 2021, he has a great opportunity to do so. Last year the NFL was more virtual due to COVID-19, which really hampered plans to develop chemistry. This coupled with the slow start of Mayfield really limited Hooper.
NFL mini camps opened up this week and Hooper was with the Browns in Berea, where according to ESPN’s Jake Trotter, had a drop in 7-on-7 drills, but rebounded with some nice catches.