The best tight end in the country last season was Florida Atlantic’s Harrison Bryant, yet he lasted until the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft, where he was chosen by Cleveland. Here are Bryant’s odds at Mybookie to win 2020 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year as well as the Browns’ over/under win total.
- Odds to win Offensive Rookie of the Year: +15000 long shot
- Browns’ win total: 5 (over -120 favorite)
Bryant was a unanimous All-American selection and won the John Mackey Award as the top tight end in the nation as a senior last year at Florida Atlantic. He finished with 65 catches for 1,004 yards and seven touchdowns on 99 targets.
He became only the third player in school history to surpass the single-season 1,000-yard mark in the Owls’ 49-6 win over UAB in the C-USA Championship Game with four receptions for 39 yards and added a score.
Bryant became the first FBS tithe end since 2013 to finish with more than 1,000 yards receiving in a season, the first player from a Group of Five conference to win the Mackey Award and first FAU player to earn All-American status. Bryant finished his collegiate career with 148 receptions for 2,137 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Bit of a surprise that Bryant lasted until the fourth round of the draft. He was the No. 115 overall pick by the Browns. Bryant is a terrific receiver, and that figures to be his primary focus in the pros, but he’s not bad as a blocker, either which could lead to an every-down role.
Coach Kevin Stefanski loves utilizing multiple tight ends, which makes Bryant a terrific fit in Cleveland. Bryant joins a room that features free-agent pickup Austin Hooper and 2017 first-round pick David Njoku.
“They use a lot of tight ends,’’ he said. “Just knowing how Coach [Kevin] Stefanski and his recent play calling years and the OC’s (offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt) play calling years how they use tight ends, just coming into that situation with some other great tight ends and being able to be in two or three two tight end sets with them, it is going to be a really cool situation and just ready to go to work.”
Bryant was on Van Pelt’s South team in the Senior Bowl. The new Browns OC was in Mobile on the Bengals coaching staff. Bryant called the week the most important part of the draft process for him.And why does Stefanski love tight ends?
“Keeping teams in base defense can be helpful at times,” he said. “Not every game, but sometimes you go into a game and you like to keep them in their base scheme with three linebackers on the field and keep them out of their nickel sub-packages, which can a lot of times bring some exotic pressures.”
Bryant’s Combine numbers weren’t great, a 4.73 40, 13 reps of 225 in the bench press, a 32 1/2-inch vertical jump. His late-season game of 10 catches for 182 yards was taken by scouts with a grain of salt, coming against a Texas-San Antonio team having a bad year.
Bryant is a confident route runner. He has shown the ability to set up routes and create separation with some small details that make a big difference. He does a pretty good job of selling moves to opposing defensive backs. Bryant’s hands can be an issue at times. On one hand, he will make some spectacular contested catches and then he will drop what look like pretty easy passes, bouncing right off his hands.
The scouting comparison that keeps popping up is San Francisco’s George Kittle, who was the ninth tight end drafted in 2017 before fast forwarding into an All-Pro.
“We played Ohio State, Central Florida and some other big teams throughout my career,” Bryant said. “We have been in some ‘faster-speed-of-game’ situations. But nothing like what I am going to have to prepare for now.”
Cleveland opens the season with a very tough test at Baltimore on Sept. 13.