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Browns Breakdowns: What Harrison Bryant brings to the tight ends room

In five weeks, the new assemblage of Browns players and coaches are expected to return to Berea for their first team reps and on-field practices of 2020.

We've all been waiting for the start of training camp, which will also be the first time rookies hit the field and jostle for top spots on the depth chart. Some rookies will fight for a starting role in Week 1, while others could be stashed in backup roles and carry starting prospects for the future. We'll just be happy that football is back in Cleveland.

Over the next few weeks, we're breaking down each rookie from the Browns 2020 draft class — with the help of The Athletic's Dane Brugler — and diving into how they might fit into next season's plans.

Next up: Harrison Bryant

The Bio

Name: Harrison Bryant

Age: 22

Height: 6-foot-5

Weight: 243

College: Florida Atlantic

Hometown: Gray, Georgia

Draft selection: 4th round (115th overall)

"Browns Live: Meet the Rookies" presented by MANCAN will take your knowledge to another level. Hosted by Nathan Zegura, the interactive live show will feature interviews with all seven members of the class, in-depth analysis and plenty of opportunities for fans to have their questions answered by the players themselves. Check out photos of the guests!

How does he play?: Even though Bryant became the first Group of Five player to ever win the John Mackey Award for the best tight end in college football, he was still mainly projected as a Day 2 or early Day 3 draft selection. Bryant scored seven touchdowns in 2019 and became the first tight end since 2013 to garner 1,000 receiving yards in a season, but it's difficult for a tight end from a Group of Five school to crack an early-round selection. Bryant's receiving and route-running abilities were as good as any tight end in the draft, but he faces a sizable jump from college to NFL talent.

Brugler's breakdown: Brugler, who tabbed Bryant as the 85th best player of the draft class in his top 300 rankings, was surprised to see Bryant on the board in Day 3 of the draft.

Brugler, however, wasn't surprised to see the Browns select Bryant with their first Day 3 pick. Cleveland will place a heavy emphasis on tight ends next season under Kevin Stefanski, and even though it has two experienced tight ends in Austin Hooper and David Njoku, Bryant's upside in the offense was too promising for the Browns to ignore.

"It's safe to say that tight end wasn't a prime target (for the Browns)," Brugler said, "but with Bryant there, I don't blame them. I'm pretty surprised he fell out of the top 100 picks, and I'm sure the Browns were as well."

Bryant's biggest contributions will come with his hands. He's capable of making tight, contested catches against any defender and can occasionally shed multiple tackles and create chunk plays on short completions.

Those are all expected for most NFL tight ends, but Brugler believes Bryant's route-running abilities will be most pivotal to his success. Bryant has an eye-catching level of speed and awareness in his routes. His ability to cut, juke or stop on a dime gave defenders fits all last season and offered the quarterback a crucial extra second or two to locate him and make a pass.

"That's the main selling point with Bryant," Brugler said. "This is a player that understands route depth. He understands how to run and get separation."

Bryant can block, too. Before an accolade-filled career at FAU, he was an offensive tackle until his senior season in high school, and his background in the trenches is still visible when asked to block. His arm length, 38 1/2 inches, isn't ideal for a heavy blocking role, but Brugler believes his strength and positioning can compensate for the lack of frame.

"He doesn't have that ideal length or the ideal power where he's just going to overwhelm defenders," Brugler said," but he understands what his strengths are — leverage, technique — and he can do just enough to keep defenders occupied."

How will he fit?: The tight end room is among the most crowded position groups on the Browns. With five other players in the group, Bryant will have no shortage of competition for a spot in the rotation. In Stefanski's wide-zone offense, though, even the No. 3 tight end could receive a heavy amount of snaps each game. Bryant could be that guy if he has a smooth rookie transition, but it won't be surprising if he needs more than a year to find his footing.