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5 things to know from Day 1 at the NFL Combine: News about Kareem Hunt, David Njoku and more


INDIANAPOLIS -- We've already knocked out a story on the Browns meeting with representatives of LB Joe Schobert sometime this week, but there was so much more to glean from the time Andrew Berry and Kevin Stefanski spent with reporters Tuesday at the Indiana Convention Center.

Here were five of the most newsworthy.

1. Browns plan to tender Hunt

Berry said the Browns plan to tender restricted free agent running back Kareem Hunt. The Browns Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager declined to confirm what level the tender would be.

Hunt, a former third-round pick, qualifies for a third-, second- or first-round tender. If another team were to attempt to sign Hunt to an offer sheet, it would do so knowing it would have to part with a future draft pick that corresponds with the level of the tender.

"We think Kareem's a good football player," Berry said. "We like having good football players on our roster … We'll explore every avenue to improve our roster."

Hunt, who led the NFL in rushing as a rookie, helped Cleveland primarily as a pass-catcher in 2019. After serving an eight-game suspension, Hunt complemented Nick Chubb nicely by catching 37 passes for 285 yards to go along with 179 rushing yards.

Stefanski said he isn't concerned with having too many options at running back.

"I think the more the merrier," Stefanski said. "Give us as many good players as you can when you're talking about offense. I know there's one ball, but if you can have a couple running backs, a couple tight ends, a couple receivers, we'll always take it. It's our job to figure out how to use those guys."

2. Grigson back in the fold

Ryan Grigson, the former Colts general manager who was a senior personnel executive with the Browns in 2017, is back with the team in an advisory role.

"With Ryan, we view him [as] a former general manager, a former NFL executive of the year, a very respected talent evaluator across the league," said Berry, who worked under Grigson from 2012-16 in Indianapolis. "I think he can provide a wealth of wisdom during this draft cycle and then post-draft we'll kind of look at football operations and really see if it's a long-term fit."

3. An endorsement for David Njoku on tight ends day

A few hours after the draft's top tight ends met with reporters, Berry gave a strong endorsement for Browns tight end David Njoku.

One year after catching 56 passes for 639 yards and four touchdowns, Njoku was limited to five catches for 41 yards and a touchdown in an injury-marred 2019. Njoku missed 10 games during the heart of the season with a wrist injury that put him on injured reserve. He was a healthy scratch for two of the final four games of the season and caught just one pass for 4 yards during that stretch.

"David didn't quite have the year that he anticipated this past fall, but we still view David as a talented pass catcher and a guy that we expect to take a step forward in this upcoming year," Berry said.

Earlier this month, the Browns released veteran tight end Demetrius Harris, leaving them with Njoku, Ricky Seals-Jones, Pharaoh Brown and Stephen Carlson at the position. Stefanski's offense in Minnesota relied heavily on multiple tight ends, and he hopes to do the same in Cleveland.

"There's so many different ways you can attack a defense when you have versatility," Stefanski said. "Certainly the tight end position gives you some versatility. It applies to a bunch of different positions but specifically tight end, it's big for us because we kind of look at it as there are some in-line, true, wide tight ends. Those are your bigger type guys that are on the line of scrimmage and then our F tight ends, which have to move around the formation and line up in different spots and do a bunch of different jobs.

"I always try to think of it from the defensive coordinator's perspective. What's going to make life hard on them? That would be a guy you can move around the formation."

4. Browns keeping all options open at fullback

The Browns didn't employ a fullback during the 2019 season, but the position is certainly in the plans for 2020.

Berry's first move in his new position was the signing of Johnny Stanton, a former Vikings fullback. He likely won't be the only addition at the position, and the Browns are keeping their options very open while looking at prospects.

Because most college offenses don't utilize fullbacks, Berry said Browns scouts are "hyper-conscious" of identifying potential options who have never played at the position. San Francisco Pro Bowl fullback Kyle Juszczyk was a tight end at Harvard. Ravens fullback Patrick Ricard began his career as a defensive tackle.

"The fullback is maybe a little bit more of a manufactured position in the NFL today," Berry said. "Whether you have former defensive linemen, former linebackers, hybrid tight end fullbacks, bigger running backs who maybe couldn't make it in the NFL as a primary ball carrier. There's a number of creative solutions to fill that position."

5. High praise from Spielman

Longtime Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said he expects Stefanski to be a "phenomenal head coach."

Spielman joined the Vikings at the same time as Stefanski in 2006. Both rose the ranks in their respective time together, with Spielman going from vice president of player personnel to general manager while Stefanski went from assistant to the head coach all the way to offensive coordinator.

"He's grown in that role," Spielman said. "I went and sat in the offensive meetings, and from where he's a young pup to where he is now, though it's calm, cool and collected there is a presence in front of a group. When I saw him present to the offense last year in that room, he grabs their attention.

"You can usually tell by the players, if they're nodding off or, and they had all eyes on him and listened to his message. I think he's going to be phenomenal in that way."

Check out photos of players interviewing at the 2020 NFL Combine

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