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2020 NFL Draft

Browns coveted Princeton TE Seth DeValve for his mismatch potential

The jokes were there for the taking, and Browns executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown cracked another one during a radio interview Monday.

"We were going to take him in the 3rd," said Brown, a Harvard alum, "but the fact he went to Princeton, we slid him a round."

Even at pick No. 138 in the fourth round, Cleveland made Princeton tight end Seth DeValve the highest-selected player in his school's history. The off-the-radar wide receiver whom the Browns plan to use as a tight end went into great detail about one of the most historic rivalries in college sports shortly after his selection, but he couldn't have been more thrilled than to hear from three notable alums from his rival -- Brown, vice president of player personnel Andrew Berry and chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta -- when his phone rang Saturday.

"It has nothing to do with the guys. It has everything to do the name of the school," DeValve said of the rivalry. "I can't speak for any particular guys, but I will say whenever we step on the field with Harvard, whenever our basketball team steps on the court with Harvard and the football team is there supporting, we want to win every single time. That's just the way the Ivy League is wired."

That's the way the Browns are wired, too, and it's why they coveted DeValve, a 6-foot-2, 244-pound athletic pass-catcher who promises to give associate head coach - offense Pep Hamilton and coach Hue Jackson plenty to work with as they devise Cleveland's offensive plans for 2016 and beyond.

DeValve, a Manchester, Connecticut, native, began his career as a wide receiver and is listed as such on his Princeton biography page, but he quickly took on tight end-like responsibilities within the Tigers' spread offense. As DeValve described it, he was an "H-back adjuster" who was moved all across the field like a chess piece. On some plays he'd line up wide, on some he'd be in the slot and some he'd have his hand in the dirt like a traditional tight end.

"I was doing tight end in various amounts depending on the year," DeValve said. "I was always used as a hybrid tight end/wide receiver so to say that I'm making a transition from wide receiver to tight end isn't extremely accurate."

DeValve's sophomore season was his most productive, as he caught 49 passes for 527 yards and four touchdowns. In his first two games as a junior, DeValve caught 19 passes for 243 yards and a touchdown before he was pulled from the field to have multiple foot surgeries. He missed four games in his senior season and finished with 33 catches for 337 yards and a touchdown.

The surgeries were not a byproduct of an injury, but rather a condition DeValve had from birth, he said. It's not a concern for him or the Browns as he prepares himself for next week's rookie minicamp.

"The deal with corrective surgery, unlike orthopedic surgery, is when the surgery is done and you've recovered, you're better than you were previously," DeValve said. "My feet are better than they've been in two years, and I'll be ready to go."

DeValve joins a tight end room that is led by Gary Barnidge and includes young players such as Randall Telfer and E.J. Bibbs. His diverse skill set promises to fit in nicely, giving Cleveland some multiple options at tight end alongside Barnidge.

"Willing blocker, able to detach and match up one on one as a receiver and has the athleticism you would want in a player at that position in the league," Brown said Monday. "When you look at all those things, his work ethic, his toughness, he was a guy we really felt like would be a nice tool for Pep and Hue to have on offense and can present some mismatches."

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