Browns Address Future of David Njoku After Drafting Tight End

Getty Cleveland Browns TE David Njoku

The Cleveland Browns decided to take a tight end in the fourth round of the NFL Draft on Saturday, selecting Harrison Bryant to beef up a position that will be used quite a bit by new head coach Kevin Stefanski.

Bryant played his college ball at Florida Atlantic and is 6-foot-5 and 243 pounds. He got progressively better each season with the Owls, culminating with a season season where he collected 65 catches, 1,007 yards and seven touchdowns.

ESPN’s Steve Muench broke down Bryant pre-draft:

‘Bryant is a light receiving tight end with below-average length and good top-end speed. He’s an instinctive and slippery open-field runner with the strength to pick up yards after initial contact. He’s fast enough to make plays down the seam. Bryant made some tough catches, but we also counted three drops against Ohio State in 2019.”

Bryant is excited to play in an offense in Cleveland that is expected to have two tight ends on the field often.

“They use a lot of tight ends. Just knowing how coach Stefanski and his recent play calling years and the OC’s (offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt) play calling years how they use tight ends, just coming into that situation with some other great tight ends and being able to be in two or three two tight end sets with them, it is going to be a really cool situation and just ready to go to work.”

Browns Still Optimistic About TE David Njoku

One of the first moves the Browns made in free agency was the signing of tight end Austin Hooper, making the former Atlanta Falcons standout the highest paid player at his position. Add into the equation a young prospect like Bryant and there is suddenly some questions about Njoku’s future in Cleveland.

However, Browns assistant director of scouting Glenn Cook said that the pick of Bryant is “no indication” about Njoku’s future in Cleveland.

“I don’t think we can have enough good players first and foremost and especially at that position with some of the packages and sets that we’re going to use in Kevin’s offense,” Cook said. “This isn’t any indication on Njoku’s future or Stephen’s or anyone else’s. I think you just continue to add new players in the right spot and add competition and see how it works out. We’re still pretty optimistic about Njoku’s future and like the things that Carlson did, but we think any type of competition and anything that can help our roster get better we’re going to take a look into it.”

The Browns have Njoku under contract for one more season, but have to make a decision on the fifth-year of his rookie deal in the coming weeks.

“We still have a ton of belief in David,” Browns GM Andrew Berry said of Njoku. “He’s a guy with outstanding physical tools. We still think the future’s very bright for him. We see David as part of our long-term plans”.

David Njoku Hoping for Bounce Back Season

GettyBrowns quarterback Baker Mayfield completes a pass to tight end David Njoku.

Njoku is seeking a bounce-back year after suffering a fractured wrist in Week 2 last season. He battled back into the lineup in Week 14, but dropped a ball that turned into an interception, leading him to be a healthy scratch the next two weeks. He suited up for the Browns final game of the season, but played just four snaps. In all, he had just five catches for 41 yards and one touchdown last season.

“It was pretty hectic last year for sure,” Njoku said. “We’re not going to go into right now. That’s behind us. I’m just really excited for this upcoming year.”

Njoku — the 29th overall pick in the 2017 draft — is a physical specimen at 6-foot-4, 246 pounds with 4.6 40-yard dash speed. In his second season, Njoku essentially doubled his production in the passing game from his rookie year, collecting 56 catches for 639 yards and four touchdowns.

“I’m looking forward to working with him,” Stefanski said of Njoku at the NFL Combine. “I think there’s an obvious skillset there. There’s a reason he was drafted that high. I think you can see it just in his physical ability and it’s a big year for David. I’ve explained that to him. He knows that and a lot of that is going to be up to him and the amount of work he puts into this and we have big plans for him but it’s about, for him, coming back in the building and working and then ultimately being able to see if we can utilize him in a role that can take advantage of some of his skillset.”

READ NEXT: Saints Coach Sean Payton Takes Shot at Browns on Twitter