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Draft on Tap

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Draft on Tap: Assessing five potential tight end prospects in the 2024 NFL Draft

The Browns have five total picks in the 2024 draft

DonT position previews TE

The Browns are set to add some young, new talent to their roster when the 2024 NFL Draft takes place April 25-27.

They have five picks in this year's draft beginning in the second round. They hold the No. 54 pick, No. 85 in the third round, No. 156 in the fifth round, No. 206 in the sixth round and No. 243 in the seventh round.

"We don't think of the draft as (addressing) need necessarily," Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager Andrew Berry said at the NFL Annual League Meetings. "We think about it as more like long-term investment in the roster."

They can address different positions groups through their picks as they look for players who have impactful skillsets. One of those skillsets could come with a tight end, as the Browns could look to use their Day 3 picks in the later rounds of the draft to add a developmental player to in their tight end group.

Their current tight end room consists of David Njoku, Jordan Akins, Zaire Mitchell-Paden and newly signed Giovanni Ricci. Njoku who led the team with 81 receptions for the 2023 season – the fifth-most by a Browns tight end in a season and tied for the eighth-most by any Browns player. He also led the Browns with a career-high six receiving touchdowns. Njoku was selected to his first Pro Bowl and finished the 2023 season with a career high 882 receiving yards.

Jordan Akins is entering his second season with Cleveland after he signed with the Browns in March 2023. Akins finished the 2023 season with 15 receptions for 132 yards and averaged 8.8 yards per reception. Mitchell-Paden spent time during the 2023 season on the practice squad and was elevated to the active roster for to play in one regular-season game during his rookie season. He signed a reserve/futures contract with the Browns in January 2024.

Ricci signed a contract with the Browns in March and brings a unique skillset as he can also play at the fullback position, as well as tight end. He spent three seasons with the Panthers and has played in 36 career games. In his time, he had nine receptions for 102 yards and recorded 18 special teams tackles. He had his best season in Carolina in 2022, when he started 3 of his 15 games and caught eight receptions for 100 yards.

Here's a look at the top prospects for tight end that could be potential fits for the Browns.

While tight end might not be the highest position of need, the Browns rely on the approach of long-term roster investment and finding the most impactful skillsets. They could add a young player who can provide depth and can develop in the Browns' system under new pass game specialist/tight ends coach Tommy Rees.

There are a handful of tight ends projected by draft experts to be in the later rounds of the draft that could fit that mindset. Ja'Tavion Sanders from Texas could be a potential developmental tight end for Cleveland if he's still on the board. At 6-foot-4, 245 pounds, he's a strong pass catcher. He caught 99 passes for 1,295 yards and seven touchdowns in his three seasons at Texas, including 682 yards and two receiving touchdowns in 2023.

Other potential prospects are Theo Johnson from Penn State and Jaheim Bell from Florida State. Johnson is a quality blocker and solid route runner who the Browns could develop over time. In his four seasons at Penn State, Johnson tallied 77 catches for 938 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Bell spent his first three seasons at South Carolina, where he caught 56 passes for 757 yards and seven receiving touchdowns, as well as 80 carries for 301 yards and three rushing touchdowns. He transferred to Florida State for his senior season and finished the year with 39 receptions for 503 yards and two receiving touchdowns, as well as four carries for two yards and a rushing touchdown. Bell has an explosive first step and can create separation with his quickness, as well as yards after the catch.

Two other names that NFL Network's Cynthia Frelund highlighted recently on an episode of Draft on Tap as two potential fits in Cleveland were former Michigan tight end AJ Barner and Kansas State's Ben Sinnott.

"I really want to look at Day 3 guys here, ones that are well-suited to deliver disproportionate value in heavier formations and would really complement the run and pass catchers already on the team," she said.

Originally from Aurora, Ohio, Barner finished his collegiate career with 64 receptions for 610 yards and five touchdowns. At 6-foot-6, 251 pounds, Barner's strength lies in his run blocking.

"When it comes to blocking, Barner ranked best in this year's class as rated by seven of the nine NFL position coaches I surveyed," Frelund said.

Sinnott recorded 82 catches for 1,138 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns at Kansas State. He also added three carries for 12 yards and a touchdown. Sinnott ran a 4.68-second 40-yard dash at the combine. He can add value in the passing game as well as take on some blocking duties in space.

"Ben Sinnott from K-State also projects to have better value as a Brown than other teams due to his alignment versality," Frelund said. "His past three seasons of data show a trajectory of improvement that suggests we haven't seen the best of him yet, and it's the most dramatic increase of any tight end in my top 15 at the position."

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