Browns TEs emerging in 'golden age' of the position

Before the Browns tapped tight end David Njoku with the 29th overall pick in the NFL Draft, they got an up close and personal look at similarly gifted players like O.J. Howard, Evan Engram and Gerald Everett at the Senior Bowl in January.

It all served as something of a window into what Cleveland tight ends coach Greg Seamon described as the "golden age" of the position in more ways than one.

"Teams are finding so many versatile athletes playing the position in college. You see more and more teams that play with multiple tight ends," Seamon said last month. "The spread offense is a throw-it-first offense, and there are a lot of players out there that are in the 6-foot-4, 225-pound range coming out of high school that were maybe good basketball players and good track athletes, and they're becoming the tight ends of our time.

"We get them," he continued, "and you can use them in so many ways."

Njoku, the former Miami standout and boys high jump national champion, fits that mold. So do his veteran teammates in Seth DeValve (a slot receiver at Princeton and two-time track and field all-conference selection in high school) and Randall Telfer (who also ran track and played basketball in high school).

Seamon said that's become the norm for tight ends across the league: big, strong, fast athletes who can play in space or with their hand in the dirt. And as a result, Cleveland could be poised to use two (or more) tight end sets next season.

"I think it varies from week to week, but I think multiple tight ends in the game is right where the NFL game is now," Seamon said. "There's just so many of these players that are available that are 6-foot-4 to 6-foot-6 and athletic and fast and can do so many things for you … I don't think anybody would be shy about getting your better athletes out there and good, big athletes are a matchup problem."

The hope is the trio can play a crucial role for an offense that struggled to move the ball through the air last season.

"Tight end probably doesn't have the sex appeal of maybe some of your traditional positions," Browns vice president of player personnel Andrew Berry said earlier this year, "although guys like (Seattle's) Jimmy Graham, (Patriots') Rob Gronkowski, (Redskins') Jordan Reed, they're certainly trying to fight against that notion.

"But certainly top players at that position," he continued, "where you're kind of half-tackle, half-wide out, they can make a huge impact — huge impact — in the game."

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