CLEVELAND -- Tight end Seth DeValve did not get consistent playing time during his rookie season with the Cleveland Browns in 2016, but hope springs eternal, and the young pass-catcher could be in store for more opportunities in 2017.
With the Browns undergoing a youth movement at tight end after releasing veteran Gary Barnidge following the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft in April, DeValve has an opportunity to step up and become an integral part of the offense, something he already did throughout the offseason program.
“Seth has done a good job,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said. “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.”
Much like Jackson, Browns tight ends coach Greg Seamon sees a far different mindset from DeValve than what he had a season ago.
“I think that he is more confident,” Seamon said. “He missed so much time last year with the hamstring issues that it slowed his development a little bit, but he came to us with a really good sense of how to run routes, well-above average hands and an excellent knowledge of the game.
“The guys at Princeton did a terrific job. He came in here understanding conceptually how pass games work together. You could plug him in at multiple positions on a pass play, and he would know how to run all of those routes.”
A wide receiver at Princeton University, the 6-foot-3, 245-pound DeValve switched to tight end after being selected with the 138th pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, and while he caught only 10 passes in 12 games last fall, the first-year pro scored a pair of touchdowns.
DeValve missed four games during the middle of the season, but emerged later in the year, when he caught a pass in seven straight games, including a career-high three receptions in a loss to the New York Giants on November 27.
DeValve’s two touchdowns came against fellow AFC North Division teams in the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers, respectively.
“He is noticeably stronger, he is faster and he is healthier,” Seamon said. “He continues to work hard technically. I think that his ability to run routes, catch the ball, leave his feet, catch the ball away from his body and he has a big catch radius, those things are showing up out here.
“I’m pleased with what he has done developing as a blocker from a technical and footwork standpoint. The proof will be obviously when we put the pads on, but he is ahead of where he was a year ago. I see Seth as a guy who is important to us and emerging just like Randall (Telfer) and David (Njoku).”