The Cleveland Browns drafted Harrison Bryant hoping he’d grow into their tight end of the future.
Only four games into his career, Bryant is making a case to be Cleveland’s tight end of the present, too. Bryant may not have the track record or present the danger that receivers Jarvis Landry or Odell Beckham provide in the passing game, but the rookie is quickly adapting to the NFL.
Don’t look now, but the Cleveland Browns’ secret weapon to a playoff run may just be their fourth-round pick from Florida Atlantic.
Harrison Bryant is enjoying a solid rookie season
An All-American tight end at Florida Atlantic, Harrison Bryant generated considerable hype during the pre-draft process.
Bryant’s on-field performance at FAU (148 receptions for 2,137 yards and 16 touchdowns in four years) and strong showing at the Senior Bowl and NFL combine seemingly made him a lock to be taken on the draft’s second day.
Surprisingly, Bryant fell to the fourth round of the NFL draft. Perhaps even more surprisingly, it was the Cleveland Browns — who signed Austin Hooper in free agency and still had former first-round pick David Njoku on the roster — that picked Bryant up in April.
Even before Njoku suffered a Week 1 injury, Bryant played himself into a sizable amount of first-team reps with a strong training camp. Bryant caught seven passes for 59 yards and a touchdown in Cleveland’s first four games.
The rookie did most of that damage with four catches and 37 yards in Cleveland’s 49-38 victory over the Cowboys in Week 4.
Harrison Bryant is impressing as a receiver and blocker
Harrison Bryant has seen more action as the season has gone on, and that isn’t an empty statement.
Bryant played 42% of the Browns’ snaps in the Week 1 loss to Lamar Jackson and the Ravens. That percentage has gone up each week and, in Cleveland’s road upset of the Cowboys, Bryant played 69% of Cleveland’s offensive snaps.
Bryant has also played at least 36% of the Browns’ special teams snaps in each game.
Part of why the Browns are playing Bryant as much as they are is his value as a blocker. Bryant has sprung numerous key blocks this year that have led to long gains or even touchdowns.
Bryant can play a major role in the Browns’ postseason hopes
The Cleveland Browns are 3-1, which in itself is a miracle and unexpected territory for Baker Mayfield and friends.
If the Browns are going to keep winning, they’ll need strong offensive performances from the usual suspects. Odell Beckham Jr. had three total touchdowns against the Cowboys, while Jarvis Landry threw a touchdown and added five catches for 48 yards, both season-highs.
Don’t forget about Harrison Bryant, though. Between his blocking and ability to get free in the passing game, Bryant is earning a major role in the Browns’ offense.
Austin Hooper is still the starting tight end and played 84% of the Browns’ snaps in Week 4. Bryant is the secret weapon who may not stuff the stat sheet as a receiver, but will have an impactful catch or two along with several important blocks.
All of this, of course, will end in Harrison Bryant hoisting the Lombardi Trophy at the end of Super Bowl 55 in Tampa, Fla. The 2020 season couldn’t go any other way than the Browns winning the Super Bowl thanks to a rookie tight end, could it?