As the Browns prepare to embark upon their second season under Pat Shurmur there are many questions that remain. With training camp opening Sat. July 28, we’re going to take a position-by-position analysis of the current roster as the team heads to camp over the next few weeks.
Part four we look at the tight end position.
Candidates: (Ben Watson, Evan Moore, Alex Smith, Jordan Cameron, Dan Gronkowski and Brad Smelley)
The Browns tight end position could be one of the deepest positions on the team. With some of the uncertainty at wide receiver, the tight ends could help the passing game significantly. Watson caught 68 passes in his first season with the Browns, but dropped to just 37 last season.
Moore and Cameron are athletic tight ends who create mismatches and if the duo can be implemented into the offense, the offense could get a big boost.
Watson (6-3, 255, 9th year, Georgia) – He is the most all around tight end on the roster as he’s a good blocker and receiver. Watson is recovered from concussions, but having suffered multiple head injuries in recent years, this could be a concern. Watson caught 37 passes for 410 yards (11.1 avg.) and two touchdowns, which was a big drop from 2010 when he caught 68 passes for 763 yards and three touchdowns.
Moore (6-6, 250, 4th year, Stanford) – The Browns signed him to an extension last year as a core-type player, but didn’t utilize him as much as they could’ve. Moore is mostly a receiver and the ability to create mismatches is his strong suit. He is more of a liability as a blocker. Moore had a career best 34 receptions for 324 yards (9.5 avg.) and four touchdowns in 16 games, including four starts. Moore had four or more receptions in three of the last four games, including five against the Ravens.
Smith (6-4, 258, 8th year, Stanford) – The Browns re-signed him as a free agent despite finishing last season on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. Smith’s most infamous play last year was when a handoff was called to the fullback and Smith was in the game and mishandled the snap. Smith was probably the best blocking tight end last season. He caught 14 passes for 131 yards (9.4 avg.) and one touchdown in 14 games.
Cameron (6-5, 245, 2nd year, USC) – There’s been a lot of talk about Cameron this off-season and the hope is he starts to show this season why the Browns selected him in the fourth-round last year. He finished his rookie season with six receptions for 33 yards, but had five in the final three games.
Gronkowski (6-5, 255, 3rd year, Maryland) – Dan hopes to make the type of impact his brother Rob has in New England. Joined the Browns late in the season when Smith and Watson were put on injured reserve and appeared in two games.
Smelley (6-2, 235, Rookie, Alabama) – This versatile rookie could dislodge a veteran because he can play both fullback and tight end. Smelley was impressive in the rookie OTAs and the minicamp and raised some eyebrows with his play.
Better than 2011? The cast is pretty much the same as last year. However, Watson is healthy to start the season and Moore and Cameron should be much better threats this season. If Watson could return to his form of 2010 when he caught 68 passes, the Browns offense will be much improved.
Moore had a career best 34 receptions, but still wasn’t prominent in the offense. Both he and Cameron present matchup problems for defenses if they can be utilized properly.