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Browns have a major weakness on offense heading into the season

The Cleveland Browns have one major weakness heading out of the second OTA session.

After re-inventing the offense this offseason, the Browns are fragile at the tight end position. The team failed to grow their passing offense since acquiring Deshaun Watson and needed to shake their system up.
The organization addressed their problems in the passing game with every offensive coaching hire, trade, free agent signing, and draft pick. The team is embracing a modern offensive approach, they’ll rely on three wide receiver sets out of shotgun this season.

Shedding their offensive identity of heavier personnel packages has exposed a weakness in the tight end room. Former Browns’ tight end Harrison Bryant joined the Raiders on a 1-year $3.25 million contract. The Cleveland Browns have five tight ends on the roster; David Njoku, Jordan Akins, Zaire Mitchell-Paden, newcomers Giovanni Ricci, and Treyton Welch.

Njoku is one of the best tight ends in the league. He is a good blocker and a threat in the receiving game. He proved his toughness last season after playing through multiple injuries, including serious burns. The Browns are relying heavily on him playing the entire season. None of the tight ends on the roster can echo his skill set. The room is composed of specialists, who play their roles very well. However, they lack the comprehensive skills to play on the line of scrimmage for all three downs.

Akins is a 6-foot-4-inch receiving threat as he uses his large frame to box out smaller defenders. After six years in the league, he hasn’t become a capable blocker. The Browns brought in Ricci, on a 1 year $1.1 million deal, to be their blocking specialist. The Ohio native was primarily used as a fullback or blocking tight end during his time with the Carolina Panthers. He has shown limited upside as a receiver.

Mitchell-Paden hasn’t played a snap for the Browns during the regular season in the two years he’s been around the team. Hopefully, the former undrafted free agent makes the 53-man roster this season. Welch is an undrafted free agent out of Wyoming and will be battling for a position on the practice squad this summer. The room lacks the adaptability needed to back up Njoku.

Njoku is a versatile weapon and a special tool for Kevin Stefanski. Njoku can line up on the line of scrimmage as a blocker or be flexed out into the slot as a receiver. The Browns cannot find a player to mimic Njoku. The problem is, if Njoku misses time, the Browns lack a complete tight end that can fill in for him in an emergency. Akins cannot play inline as he’s a vulnerability in the running game. Ricci cannot operate as a receiver on the line of scrimmage. The two are talented players who excel in their specific roles. However, the Browns are missing an adequate tight end that can contribute to the passing and the run game. The Browns must find a competent backup for Njoku before the season begins.

Story originally appeared on Browns Wire