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Position Previews

Browns 2018 training camp preview: Analyzing the TEs

We're pulling a two-a-day with our position previews on this lovely Wednesday in Berea. After tackling the wide receivers, we're setting our sights on another position Cleveland hopes catches plenty of footballs in 2018.


David Njoku
Seth DeValve
Darren Fells
Devon Cajuste
Julian Allen

What we know: There might not be a more locked-in position group on the roster. The Browns boast three tight ends who are all expected to have some sort of significant role on the offense, as Njoku and DeValve were implemented early and often throughout OTAs and minicamp. Fells, who spent last season with the Lions, was brought to Cleveland to help as a blocking tight end in the run game but also poses a major red-zone threat. Browns coach Hue Jackson suggested Njoku, a former first-round pick, may have worn down a bit by the end of his rookie season -- an understandable, common occurrence at one of the most physically demanding positions on the field. There's a belief he'll be all the better for it, and his role in Cleveland's passing game could get a lot more lucrative in the wake of all of the team's improvements at wide receiver. DeValve, who is entering his third season, has been constantly lauded for his route running and shouldn't be overlooked as a weapon at the position. He and Njoku put up nearly identical stat lines in 2017, and that could very well happen again this season.

Biggest question: What would a breakout season from Njoku mean for the Browns offense? Well, it sure wouldn't hurt. At times last year, Njoku looked like a player capable of making it happen as a rookie, as he used his rare combination of size, speed and athleticism to make a handful of big plays en route to 32 catches, 386 yards and a team-best four receiving touchdowns. There's a chance for so much more in 2018, especially in the wake of the team's addition of numerous offensive weapons. In turn, the presence of a big-time tight end would open things up even more for the Browns' wide receivers and running backs. It might be a lot to ask from a player who celebrated his 22nd birthday earlier this month, but Browns coaches are optimistic he's at least ready to take a significant step forward. "In the pass game, he is a much more refined route runner than he was," tight ends coach Greg Seamon said. "He should be a dominant receiver in the red zone, especially in the higher throws, the back of the end zone and that kind of thing … We have to keep in mind that this guy has a long and very, very bright future. We expect continued improvement."

The Browns 53-man roster as of September 22, 2018.

X-Factor: Amid the Browns' numerous moves at the start of the league year, the signing of Fells hummed under the radar. It shouldn't be overlooked, as the Browns are not only getting another tall target in the red zone but also a skilled blocker who should help in the run game and also ease the burden for whomever is tabbed as the team's starting left tackle. He'll be the veteran voice in the room for an otherwise young group of Browns tight ends. Fells sees "all the potential in the world" from Njoku and DeValve and hopes to leave an impact on both. "I'm just trying to make a difference here," he said.

Stat tracker: The most productive season a tight end experienced in Todd Haley's offense during his time in Pittsburgh came in 2012, when Heath Miller racked up 71 catches for 816 yards and eight touchdowns. Miller made the Pro Bowl that season.

Says it all: "Seth is a guy that has an engineering degree from Princeton. He is a high achiever in everything he does in his life. It is set a goal, achieve a goal, set a goal, achieve a goal and grinding. That is how I see him on the football field. He addresses everything that shows up as a potential weakness and tries to improve it in the offseason. I think that we will see another version of him in a month or so when they come back, and it will be a better version than what we had in the spring even." -- Seamon

How many were kept at last year's 53-man cutdown? 3