By Tony Grossi
Eighth and final part of a series analyzing the Browns’ draft needs.
Position: Tight end.
Roster: Benjamin Watson, Evan Moore, Alex Smith, Jordan Cameron, Dan Gronkowski.
This was touted as an offensive strength in Pat Shurmur’s first training camp, when tight ends routinely beat teammates for touchdowns drill after drill. Maybe it was a truer reflection of the linebackers and safeties. Tight end production turned out to be decent – 91 catches for 872 yards and 7 TDs. But it was merely comparable to the season before under coach Eric Mangini – 90 for 1,147 and 5. Despite long periods when he disappeared from the flow of games, Moore actually co-led the team with four TD receptions. Smith was a surprise regular contributor because of his blocking ability.
Needs: No new bodies. Just more consistency from what they have.
Top 5 prospects:
1. Coby Fleener, Stanford.
Andrew Luck’s favorite receiver led Stanford with 10 TD catches. A wind-aided 4.45 40 time at his pro day showed why he averaged 19.6 yards per catch.
2. Dwayne Allen, Clemson.
Not a bad consolation for the second NFL team looking for a pass catching tight end.
3. Orson Charles, Georgia.
A good pass catcher but also a strong blocker. Good enough to stay on the field three downs and help in the running game.
4. Ladarius Green, Louisiana-Lafayette.
He’s leaner than most, raising questions of whether he can withstand the pounding of the position.
5. Michael Egnew, Missouri.
Converted receiver from the Missouri TE factory, he acted mostly as a slot receiver and will have an adjustment lining up as a conventional tight end.
Last word: GM Tom Heckert surprised many last year by drafting Cameron in the fourth round. After a fairly quiet rookie season, Cameron might ease into more playing time. Watson, 31, suffered three concussions last year, but vows to roll on.
Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com.
He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 44 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi
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