The athletic Gray could develop into a weapon
He may have only hauled in two receptions during the 2013 season, but some people inside the hallways of Berea are circling tight end MarQueis Gray as a player to watch in 2014.
At first glance, Gray's body type resembles that of Paul Kruger more than Jordan Cameron. Equally surprising is that the beefy, 6-foot-4, 255-pound Gray starred at quarterback in college for the Minnesota Gophers.
"I always wanted to be a quarterback," said Gray, who threw 14 touchdowns in his college career and rushed for an additional 1,731 yards. "Some things happen and you have to make sacrifices in this league. And that's one of the sacrifices I made."
The Browns aren't hoping it's a sacrifice. Their hoping it's an astute awakening to tap into Gray's hidden potential.
Over time, tight end has become one of the most unique positions in all of sports. Often, those who excel at the position barely knew how to play it when they entered the NFL. Jimmy Graham and Antonio Gates were known more for basketball in college. With tight ends now lining up all over the field, plugging in these hard-to-define athletes has become a common practice.
The challenge, Gray admits, is blocking. A vast majority of players rarely make a position switch as drastic as quarterback to tight end. So after years of standing in the shotgun avoiding defenders, the tight end is still getting used to all the battering and bruises that come with his new territory.
"It's a lot more physical stress on the body," said Gray. "Being down there with the big guys, I have to do a lot more in the weight room, making sure I get a lot more strength with my upper body."
Gray, a rookie last season, knows nothing will be handed to him. He knows the leash from the coaching staff will be shorter this year, now that he's had a year to absorb his surroundings. He knows in order to see more reps, he'll have to start exceling on special teams. And finally, he knows that opponents this season will be keying in on Jordan Cameron. So having a second option at tight end could carry significant weight.
"Jordan has all the skills to be a great tight end in this league," said Gray. "[But] we're pushing each other."