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Browns positional analysis: Tight ends

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Posted Feb. 23, 2011 @ 11:48 a.m. ET
By Mike Wilkening

This is the fourth in a series of position-by-position looks at the Browns' personnel entering the 2011 season. Here is our analysis of Cleveland's TE situation:

Overview: In 2009, the Browns didn't have a tight end catch more than a dozen passes. In the offseason, they signed former Patriots TE Benjamin Watson, and he responded with a career-best and team-high 68 catches for 763 yards in 2010. 

Watson, 30, runs very well and figures to be the Browns' top tight end in 2011. However, with the team likely to target its wideouts more in Pat Shurmur's version of the West Coast offense, will Watson get fewer opportunities than he did a season ago?

Here's a breakdown of each of the tight ends on the roster, in alphabetical order:

Tyson DeVree: DeVree was signed to the Browns' practice squad in December. He caught 18 passes for 174 yards and three TDs for the UFL's Hartford Colonials in 2010. DeVree, 26, could contend for a reserve role. 

Greg Estandia: Estandia, 28, spent the season on injured reserve. He caught four passes for 45 yards and no TDs for Cleveland in 2009. Estandia, who has four years of service, will be a free agent. 

Evan Moore: A converted wide receiver, Moore was frequently split out wide in former offensive coordinator Brian Daboll's attack. He caught 16 passes for 322 yards and one TD (20.1 avg.) last season but finished the year on injured reserve with a hip/groin injury. Moore, who has three years of experience, is slated to be a free agent. Of the tight ends currently on the roster, he's most likely to be the top backup to Watson should he re-sign. 

Alex Smith: Smith, who has six years of experience, appeared in three games last season, catching one pass for six yards. The former Buccaneer, Eagle and Patriot is slated to be a free agent. 

Benjamin Watson: Watson was targeted a team-high 102 times in 2010 and proved a very good fit in Daboll's offense. He's likely to retain an important role in the Browns' offense this season even if the wideouts are targeted more. 

Bottom line: Watson should remain the top target at this position, with Moore having the best shot of the other tight ends on the roster to win a roster spot if he re-signs. The Browns might look to add a blocking tight end after releasing Robert Royal in February. 

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