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Young TEs could help Browns offense become more 'dynamic' in 2017

The Browns are still in the thick of offseason workouts, but it's hard not to look at the kind of offensive weapons Cleveland will have at its disposal next fall.

Perhaps most intriguing is the Browns' new-look tight end group, which added former Miami standout David Njoku, whom they selected with their third and final first-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Njoku, a former national boys high jump champion who was recruited by the Hurricanes as a receiver, is poised to be a mismatch type of player for opposing defenses. "He has the ability to make plays down the field, and I think you can see that in a lot of his highlights," said head coach Hue Jackson.

"He makes contested catches. He can create separation from defenders. He has the ability to be an in-line blocker … He has that kind of versatility. We are going to see if we can use his skill set to that way."

Though the Browns parted ways with veteran and 2015 Pro Bowler Gary Barnidge, Njoku and second-year tight end Seth DeValve are set to play key roles in the passing game on an offense that struggled in 2016.  

Njoku caught 64 passes for 1,060 yards and nine touchdowns in two seasons at Miami, while DeValve, a former slot receiver at Princeton, caught two touchdowns in 10 receptions a year ago.

"Here's a young player who's heading into his second year, who's 260-plus pounds who can run and catch," Jackson said Thursday, "and you combine him with another young player who we're putting on our football team who can run and catch."

The bottom line? The Browns, who are still searching for a long-term answer at quarterback and hoping a room full of young receivers step up, might now have a certain flexibility they didn't have last season.

If Njoku and DeValve can give teams mismatch problems, Jackson said, "that gives us an opportunity to do a little bit more on offense and be more dynamic."

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