3 Browns players who could be nice surprises in 2024

These 3 players could be pleasant surprises for the Browns in 2024

Cleveland Browns, Alex Wright
Cleveland Browns, Alex Wright / Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
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2. Giovanni Ricci, TE/FB

One move that went under the radar for the Browns was the signing of Giovanni Ricci. The former Carolina Panthers tight end hasn't seen the field much as he enters his fifth NFL season with just nine receptions for 102 yards.

Despite the limited production, there's reason to believe he can succeed in Cleveland. Ricci entered the league in 2020 as an undrafted free agent from Western Michigan. During his collegiate career, he proved to be a viable option in the passing game with 51 receptions for 642 yards and eight touchdowns in his senior campaign.

Ahead of the draft, Lance Zierlein of NFL.com praised his route running and ball skills while pointing out he's a former wideout.

"Former receiver with loose, athletic gait in open field. Has early acceleration to challenge seam. Has added 40 pounds of good weight on his frame since the start of his college career. Routes are crisp with some detail to leverage. Looks to find football immediately out of breaks and turns. Nimble feet in space after catch. Excellent ball skills to extend and snare throws over his head. Impressive catch focus when it's noisy near him. Quick hands to pluck and tuck through contact. Hyper aware of sidelines/end lines and dots feet accordingly after catch." — Zierlein, NFL.com

Zierlein did say Ricci needed to get stronger which might have been why he never got a shot in Carolina. Their system under Matt Rhule favored blocking tight ends, which is why they gave Ian Thomas a sizable extension despite routinely producing fewer than 200 yards receiving each year.

In Cleveland, Ricci will most likely operate in the H-Back role and do a lot of the things we saw Harrison Bryant handle over the past four seasons. That won't lead to elite numbers but it wouldn't be a shock to see him replicate the stats Bryant typically offered.