Tight Ends: Njoku established himself, Bryant took a step back
David Njoku has pretty much established himself as an NFL starter by now, after rising from fifth-string in the Freddie Kitchens era. In the comments section below, fans are welcome to complain about anything they wish.
However, before we complain about Njoku's $8.4 million cap hit this season, let's consider why it's okay to be charged $7.5 million for the inimitable Austin Hooper, who hasn't played for the Browns in two years.
Njoku does have a huge pile of non-guaranteed money waiting for him in the future, which he's never going to get. We should probably not hold that against him, either. For a tight end who is often called upon to block for the running game, TYFS of 0.76 is just fine, and so is 7.85 yards per target and a 72.5 catch percentage.
Tight Ends TYFS Snaps TYFS/Snap Yds/Tar Catch pct Yds/Opp
David Njoku 620 817 0.76 7.85 72.5% 7.56
Harrison Bryant 247 564 0.44 5.69 73.8% 5.74
Pharaoh Brown 45 202 0.22 4.50 50.0% 4.50
As for Harrison Bryant, a few years ago, some observers were thinking he was going to grow up to be a star receiving tight end. For what it's worth, Pro Football Focus grades both Njoku and newcomer Jordan Akins, the former Houston Texan, as top 12 NFL tight ends, but Bryant doesn't make the top 32.
Bryant graded better in 2021 than last year. In fact, he graded about the same overall as blocking tight end Pharaoh Brown. Brown's receiving stats are distinctly inferior to Bryant's, sure, but Brown is perceived to be a much better blocker.
At tight end, poor receiving stats can be tolerated if the player has very good blocking skills. It would be fair to say that Brown was good enough to be a backup, which on the 2022 Browns is high praise. However, with Bryant regressing, the Browns didn't have the personnel to run a decent two tight end formation like Kevin Stefanski wanted to do.
To make a long story short, almost everyone on the Browns bench performed at a level that was shockingly poor. Expect to either see dramatic improvement or else some new faces in 2023.