4. Jordan Akins, Cleveland Browns
At number four we make it back-to-back Browns with someone who could prove to be one of Cleveland's most underrated additions from this offseason. Not only does Jordan Akins have experience and chemistry with quarterback Deshaun Watson, but he is also coming off a season where he posted career highs in receptions (37), yards (495), and touchdowns (5). Doing so with a trio of Davis Mills, Kyle Allen, and Jeff Driskel throwing him the football.
Compared to Njoku, Akins has only played in five NFL seasons but is already 30 years old. So while the ceiling and potential may not be as high with a guy like Akins, his proven production, NFL experience, and history and connection with Watson could lead to another solid year for Cleveland in 2023.
5. Irv Smith Jr., Cincinnati Bengals
The Cincinnati Bengals presumed "starting" tight end finally comes in here at number five. While this rank doesn't necessarily speak to the talent level of Irv Smith Jr., it does speak to his ability. As they say: "The best ability is availability."
Since entering the league as a second-round pick in 2019, Smith has struggled MIGHTILY to stay on the field. He played all 16 games as a rookie and 13 games in 2020, but he missed the entire 2021 season and played just 8 games in 2022. Smith has flashed, at times, his effectiveness, totaling nine career touchdowns in just his three playing seasons. But to be relied on as a number one tight end for a team that is supposed to be contending for a championship is a lot to put on Smith.
Smith is a true wildcard who, when healthy, could end up being toward the top of this list. But even at just 24 years old, we are so far removed from seeing Smith being a consistent and reliable contributor to an offense that I have to see it to believe it. This was a very high-risk, high-reward signing for the Bengals this offseason and I am very intrigued to see how it works out.