My father always told me there are three sides to every story.
- Your side
- Their side
- The truth
When it comes to position players, we often dig our feet into a particular camp and refuse to recognize the validity of the opposing view. This week, it’s the Cleveland Browns tight end position.
Thanks to David Njoku’s cryptic tweet, Kyle Rudolph’s interest in reuniting with his ex-coach, and the fact that Kevin Stefanski loves utilizing this position, fans are battling about who should stay, who should go, and whether adding another one is worth considering.
(This isn’t a particularly fun battle, but it’s certainly better than the offseason QB battles we’ve grown accustomed to for decades, so it’s a nice change of pace!)
So let’s get nerdy and find the truth by breaking down the players in question using Cleveland Browns General Manager Andrew Berry’s favorite tool: analytics.
*Note: All statistics courtesy of Pro Football Reference unless otherwise noted.
The TEs in Question:
David Njoku, 25
In this week’s press conference, Berry said he likes the current tight end room and the play of Njoku, but that the team would explore any avenue to add talent.
Some fans say Njoku isn’t worth the money, given the other talent.
Are they right?
Njoku By the Numbers (2020 Regular Season)
Tgt/Rec/Yds: 19/29/219 yds
Longest Reception: 28 yds
Yards After Catch/Reception: 4.6
1st Downs: 13
Snaps/Snap %: 361 snaps/36%
Catch %: 65.5% (career high)
Drops & Dropped Passes/Target: 1 drop/3.4%; 0 INTs when targeted (career low)
Passer Rating On Passes When Targeted: 110.3
PFF Grade: 66.9
Contract Details: 2021 is last year of his contract; $6.013 million in 2021
2020 Playoffs (2 Games)
Tgt/Rec/Yds: 5/6 66 yds
Longest Reception: 27 yds
1st Downs: 3
Catch %: 83.3%
Austin Hooper, 26
The Browns signed Hooper to a four-year deal last offseason — a deal that received high praise from fans. While Hooper was targeted far more than Harrison Bryant and Njoku, he struggled to meet expectations based on his playing time in Atlanta.
Granted, it was his first year in a new system with a new QB and staff. COVID restrictions also prevented a lot of off-season practice time. Hooper undoubtedly had situations working against his favor, but is that all there is to it?
Hooper by the Numbers (2020 Regular Season)
Tgt/Rec/Yds: 46/70/435 yds (career-low)
Longest Reception: 36 yds (career-low)
Yards After Catch/Reception: 3.8
1st Downs: 27
Snaps/Snap %: 633 snaps/63%
Catch %: 64.3% (career-low)
Drops & Dropped Passes/Target: 2 drops/2.9%; 1 INT when targeted
Passer Rating On Passes When Targeted: 95.8 (career-low)
PFF Grade: 68.3
Contract Details: Signed to a 4yr/$44.2 million contract; Potential out in 2023; UFA in 2024
2020 Playoffs (2 Games)
Tgt/Rec/Yds: 9/14 62 yds
Longest Reception: 11 yds
1st Downs: 5
Catch %: 64.3%
Harrison Bryant, 22
It’s hard to say whether this young tight end will be the future for the Browns after one season, but he showed enough promise to make some fans believers. The 2020 fourth-round pick is signed to a low-risk/high-reward contract, so get used to seeing him on Sundays.
Bryant by the Numbers (2020 Regular Season)
Tgt/Rec/Yds: 24/38/238 yds
Longest Reception: 35 yds
Yards After Catch/Reception: 4.9
Fumbles: 2 (2 lost)
1st Downs: 14
Snaps/Snap %: 591 snaps/59%
Catch %: 63.2%
Drops & Dropped Passes/Target: 3 drops/7.9%; 2 INTs when targeted
Passer Rating On Passes When Targeted: 85.2
PFF Grade: 60.7
Contract Details: Signed to a 4yr/$4.6 million contract; UFA in 2024
2020 Playoffs (Eligible 1 Game)
Longest Reception: 0
1st Downs: 0
Catch %: 0
Kyle Rudolph, 31
Rudolph by the Numbers (2020 Regular Season)
Tgt/Rec/Yds: 28/37/334 yds
Longest Reception: 25 yds
Yards After Catch/Reception: 5.9
Fumbles: 1 (1 lost)
1st Downs: 16
Snaps/Snap %: 574 snaps/57%
Catch %: 75.7%
Drops & Dropped Passes/Target: 0 drops/0%; 0 INTs when targeted
Passer Rating On Passes When Targeted: 111.8
PFF Grade: 66.5
*Released on 3/2 by the Minnesota Vikings after 10 seasons
That was a lot of information all at once, I know.
Let’s break it down even further so we can get a clearer picture.
Most Regular Season Games Played: Bryant (15)
Most Snaps: Hooper (633)
Least Snaps: Njoku (361)
Highest PFF Grade: Hooper (68.3)
Lowest PFF Grade: Bryant (60.7)
Highest Passer Rating When Targeted: Rudolph (111.8)
Lowest Passer Rating When Targeted: Bryant (85.2)
Most TDs: Hooper (4)
Least TDs: Rudolph (1)
Most 1st Downs: Hooper (27)
Least 1st Downs: Njoku (13)
Highest Catch %: Rudolph (75.7%)
Lowest Catch %: Bryant (63.2%)
Most Yards After Catch: Rudolph (5.9)
Least Yards After Catch: Hooper (3.9)
So who is the most valuable?
Who is the least valuable?
Who deserves to stay (or come)?
What is the truth?
We’re just here to give you the numbers.
Let the battle continue!
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