Cleveland Browns: Will David Njoku or Harrison Bryant be TE2?
The Cleveland Browns have depth at the tight end position, led by Austin Hooper; the question is will David Njoku or Harrison Bryant emerge as tight end two?
Head coach Kevin Stefanski runs a lot of two-tight end sets in his offense, which is why the Cleveland Browns added depth to the position last season. General manager Andrew Berry made Austin Hooper a highly paid man and then drafted 2019 Mackey Award winner, Harrison Bryant.
This caused some uneasiness for David Njoku, who later requested a trade. The trade was not fulfilled as Stefanski envisioned using Njoku quite a bit in his two tight ends sets, especially with Njoku’s pass-catching ability. Berry picked up Njoku’s fifth-year option in February of 2020.
Njoku dealt with injuries last season, missing three games. This gave Harrison a chance to step up and enter the starting lineup.
Of the two, Harrison played in more games (15) while also starting in nine, compared to Njoku’s five starts in 13 games.
The stats between the two are relatively comparable, at least from a pass-catching standpoint. Njoku caught 19 passes on 39 targets for 213 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Bryant hauled in 24 passes on 38 targets and three touchdowns. What slightly separated the two was Baker Mayfield’s 125.8 passer rating when targeting Njoku.
Another area where Njoku proved to be better than Harrison in 2020, actually all of the Browns tight ends, was in his blocking game. He was the highest-rated pass blocker on the Browns, which is something that shouldn’t go unnoticed.
Bryant had his fair share of rookie mistakes, including coughing up the football. Overall, he was solid for the Browns and it will be interesting to see how he performs in year two.
This is going to be one of the most interesting training camp battles this summer. Both offer skillsets that fit perfectly for what Stefanski wants to do with this offense. Hooper is the clear No. 1 in the tight end room, but TE2 is critical due to snap counts, which leads to more opportunities to contribute.
Every good team has star players, but arguably, more importantly, good role players. Both of these guys have seemed to embrace being role players, which is a good sign for both heading into camp.
Njoku has put his issues with the Browns in the rearview mirror and Harrison has a lot of upside moving forward. Based on the 2020 season and what we’ve seen thus far in the offseason, Njoku appears to have a slight edge.
Now, that won’t fully be on display until the Browns open training camp on July 28th.
Each of these two players will be entering their second year in Stefanski’s offense and this year will benefit from actually being at camp physically, opposed to mostly virtually in 2020. It will be a fun battle and one to surely keep an eye on.