Reminiscing back to the 2016 season, there aren’t many positives about the Cleveland Browns, who finished 1-15 and were a blocked field goal away from being without a win. The Dawg Pound would love to just delete that entire season out of their memory, but there were a few positives mixed in with all the negativity.
With 14 rookies, there was inexperience and inconsistent play. 2016 was supposed to be filled with young players gaining experience and learning the NFL game. One of the players who used that experience to his advantage was fourth-round pick Seth DeValve, who has been quite impressive so far this offseason. During OTAs this week, head coach Hue Jackson made it known that his second-year tight end isn’t just going to sit back and first-round pick David Njoku take a job that he can possibly lock up.
“Seth has done a good job. Seth is an emerging player. It’s his second year. This is not the same Seth as a year ago. He came out and was banged up and learning his way in the National Football League. I’m sure he’d probably tell you he felt a little overmatched. But I think he’s worked extremely hard, and I think it shows in what he’s done this offseason to give himself a chance to compete and I think he’s done a good job.”
With the surprising departure of Gary Barnidge, the starting tight end spot is up for grabs. Will it be athletic freak and the very young Njoku? If it’s not him and if Jackson decides to have his rookie learn a little on the sidelines before throwing him immediately in the fire, there’s a good possibility the starting tight end spot could be filled by DeValve.
Although he was sad to see the veteran go, he’s looking forward to the new opportunity that has now become available and will take full advantage of it, per clevelandbrowns.com’s Patrick Maks.
“It was hard to see him go. It was a shock, I think, to everybody. I certainly didn’t expect it.That being said, now that he’s gone, I did feel a huge responsibility and really wanted to just step right in. I had limited opportunities last year, and I felt the whole time like I wanted to do more. And suddenly, here comes an opportunity to do more.”
In limited time in 2016 due to a nagging hamstring injury, the 6-foot-4, 245-pound tight end finished with 10 receptions (12 targets), 127 yards, and two touchdowns. Not only was he dealing with an injury, but DeValve was a skit receiver and wing back at Harvard, so he also had to learn a brand new position during his rookie season as well as learning the NFL game. Obviously, it was tough, but he worked through it and is now ready to go for Year 2.
“I think you spend the majority of your rookie year finding your routine, finding your success routine. And once you find it, you kind of just want to stay with it. And the biggest difference is, I can stick with that routine from Day 1 this year and I’m in better shape. I’m stronger, I’m faster, I’m healthier and I know better what I’m doing on the field. So just getting in that routine, having that routine down from last year and just sticking to it, everything’s gone a lot more smoothly.”
He may not have stuffed the stat sheet, but in his limited time to impress the coaching staff during his rookie season, he did just that, and has continued to do so during OTAs. Two touchdowns on 10 catches (let alone 12 targets) isn’t bad. Expected to get much more playing time this fall, the second-year tight end could prove to be someone that whoever the starting quarterback is can count on.