By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com
Last in a series analyzing the Browns’ draft needs.
Position: Tight end.
Roster: Gary Barnidge, Jordan Cameron, Jim Dray, MarQueis Gray, Keevon Milton, Andre Smith.
Cameron’s breakout year (80 catches, 917 yards, 7 TDs) resulted in a Pro Bowl selection in his third season. Now it’s time to pay the piper. The Browns want to avert another Alex Mack situation by re-signing Cameron to a multi-year contract before his final contract year lapses in 2014. Those talks have been going on without success. If a new deal isn’t arrived at before the end of 2014, Cameron could be a candidate for the franchise tag in 2015. The rest of the depth chart is filled – over-filled, really – with role players. Barnidge is an underrated combination in-line blocker and occasional receiver. Gray is a multi-dimensional threat, a college QB who can run and catch. Milton and Smith primarily are blockers. They were joined in the role by Dray, a free-agent acquisition of the new regime. The fact GM Ray Farmer would add Dray to an already bloated roster at the position indicates how highly he thinks of him as a blocking force.
Needs: Can a 4-12 team actually have a position with no needs? If so, it would be at tight end. However, if contract talks with Cameron turn sour, the search for a playmaker to take some pressure off the wideouts would recommence.
Top 5 prospects
1. Eric Ebron, North Carolina
Far and away the class of the position, he is not so much an athletic freak like Vernon Davis, but can have the same impact on an offense.
2. Jace Amaro, Texas Tech
Set the NCAA receiving yards record for a tight end with 1,352. He is the only other tight end with a chance of going in the first round.
3. Troy Niklas, Notre Dame
At 6-6 ½ and 270 pounds, this former linebacker is considered the top blocking tight end in the draft, who has a chance to develop as a pass catcher.
4. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington
A three-year starter with consistent production who should see action in the second or third round.
5. C.J. Fiedorowicz, Iowa
Next in line from a school that produces NFL tight ends, he probably tops out as a No. 2.
Xavier Grimble, Southern California
He was the top high school tight end recruit in the nation but lost his way when Lane Kiffin replaced Pete Carroll at USC. Surely he’s on Carroll’s radar screen.
You would guess that tight end is one position the Browns wouldn’t draft, but with 10 picks, it might be worth a flier on a so-called “value pick.”
Other Draft Needs:
|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 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Use the hashtage #HeyTony on Twitter or email your “Hey Tony” questions to firstname.lastname@example.orgFollow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi
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