David Njoku may have seen the writing on the wall when Cleveland drafted Harrison Bryant in April.
Njoku, the Browns’ former first-round pick out of Miami, recently requested a trade. Cleveland signed Atlanta’s Austin Hooper and selected Bryant, the reigning John Mackey Award winner from Florida Atlantic, in the draft’s fourth-round.
If the Browns wind up trading Njoku, fantasy football players would be wise to consider drafting Bryant as their ‘TE2.’
Harrison Bryant had a terrific career at Florida Atlantic
Harrison Bryant was a converted offensive lineman who primarily held FCS offers when he signed with Florida Atlantic in 2016.
FAU was certainly grateful Bryant chose to play in Boca Raton, Fla. A three-year starter, Bryant finished his college career with 148 receptions for 2,137 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Bryant earned unanimous All-American honors last year. His 65 catches and 1,004 receiving yards led FBS tight ends.
FAU won two Conference USA titles in Bryant’s four years. Owls head coach Lane Kiffin took the same position at Ole Miss minutes after FAU defeated UAB in December’s championship game.
Cleveland drafted Bryant in the fourth round this year
NFL draft experts projected Harrison Bryant would go anywhere from the second to fourth rounds in April’s NFL draft. NFL Media’s Lance Zeirlein even compared Bryant to San Francisco 49ers star George Kittle.
After surprisingly falling to the fourth round, Cleveland scooped Bryant up with the 115th overall pick. The 6-foot-5 tight end tested well at the combine and reportedly impressed the Browns in his meetings with them.
The move caught some off guard, though, because Cleveland already had two capable tight ends on the roster. Former first-round pick David Njoku has flashed in the past but missed 12 games last year with a wrist injury.
Cleveland signed Atlanta’s Austin Hooper in free agency. Hooper set career-highs in catches (75), receiving yards (787), and touchdowns (six) for the Falcons last season.
Things may have changed, though, when Njoku requested a trade. Although Cleveland doesn’t have to act on Njoku’s request, it is worth noting the team traded running back Duke Johnson after he asked for a trade last summer.
Harrison Bryant is an intriguing fantasy football choice
Neither David Njoku nor Harrison Bryant rank among ESPN’s top-30 tight ends in projected fantasy football points. Austin Hooper, the Browns’ expected starter, is the ninth-highest projected tight end.
If the Browns trade Njoku, Bryant may rise to the backup tight end role. Bryant could also see action in two tight-end sets.
The unique offseason means Bryant has already missed out on meaningful reps with teammates. However, Bryant is worth drafting as a backup tight end who, in certain weeks, may be worth playing as a flex.
There is reason to be optimistic about Bryant earning playing time as a rookie. New Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski heavily used rookie tight end Irv Smith Jr. with the Vikings last year.
Bryant may not stuff the stat sheet the way he did at FAU just yet. But he’s definitely a risk worth taking if the Browns create space for him on the depth chart.