And you have to believe Harrison Bryant took notice of how his hard work paid off.
So it is a good plan for Bryant to pay attention to Njoku’s training habits and style his game after his teammate.
That’s what Bryant has done since he was drafted by the Browns in 2020.
— Matthew Peterson (@MatthewPetey) December 21, 2021
Now the former NCAA tight end of the year from Florida Atlantic might step right into Njoku’s old shoes.
That is, as the #2 tight end on a tight end-heavy offense now that Austin Hooper has moved on.
If all things are equal, Hooper leaves 61 targets for Bryant to share with Njoku.
And should they get greedy, they can try to steal some of the 168 targets left behind by departed wide receivers.
Why Bryant Should Take a Big Step
Bryant stands at 6’5″ and 240 pounds, eerily similar to the 6’4″, 236-pound Njoku.
Both players worked hard at their blocking skills, contributing to both the running game and pass protection.
Njoku seems to be cured of his early-career plague of drops and caught 68% of his targets last season.
Bryant handled a bit more than half the number of Njoku’s targets but hauled in 75% of them.
— BROWNS OR DIE 💀 (@BrownsorDie) October 25, 2020
Despite the disparity in targets, Njoku scored just one more touchdown than Bryant.
Both players can find the short open area as a relief valve or stretch the defense with a deep pattern.
With all those similarities, it seems doubtful either will get locked into a role as a receiver or blocking tight end.
For that reason, and with no established #3 tight end, Bryant should see a significant bump in production.
Why It Might Not Work That Way
One thing that might change the equation is Kevin Stefanski’s “new” offense.
With only 3 developmental prospects behind Bryant, we assume Cleveland will abandon 3-tight end sets.
But will Stefanski pull back on the 2-tight end sets as well with his new quarterbacks?
Touchdown 2️⃣ today… 🔥
— BROWNS OR DIE 💀 (@BrownsorDie) December 25, 2021
Stefanski might not feel the need to max-protect as much with either of them.
And with neither quarterback familiar with the Browns receivers, who can say which one earns the “favorite” role?
But Watson can open up this offense enough for the wide receivers and tight ends to be happy.
And Bryant is likely to make his biggest impact yet for the Browns.