10 – Gary Barnidge
Drafted by the Carolina Panthers in the fifth round (141st overall) of the 2008 NFL Draft and then signed by the Cleveland Browns in 2013, Barnidge turned out to be one of the best waiver wire snags of the 2015-2016 season.
Standing 6’6″ and a good amount of athleticism, Barnidge somehow managed to have a breakout year on the miserable Browns team amidst the quarterback struggles throughout the year.
He had 79 receptions for 1,043 yards and added nine touchdowns. Throughout his six previous seasons before, he had only managed 44 receptions, 603 yards, and three touchdowns.
With the signing of Robert Griffin III in the offseason, Barnidge should be pretty excited to have a new QB looking to show that he is still capable of being the field general he was when he led the Redskins to the playoffs his rookie campaign.
Whether or not RG-3 can stay healthy is the only thing that is concerning, and the fact that they lost Mitchell Schwartz and Alex Mack to free agency could mean that he is going to be getting hit a lot.
Barnidge would be ranked higher, but the offensive line questions are worrisome, and that may mean that he will spend more time blocking than being able to do what he did so well last season, run routes and catch touchdowns.
The plus side for the Browns and Barnidge is the incredible trade they somehow suckered the Eagles into taking.
Sliding back to the eighth spot and gaining a third and a fourth this year, as well as a first and a second next year. Only giving up the second spot and a fourth rounder next year, Cleveland more than wins that trade.
Hopefully for the Browns’ sake, they do not repeat what they have done for so many years and drop the ball in the draft. If they could find some solid offensive lineman to fill some holes and some wide receiver or running back help, Barnidge would be less of a target and could shine yet again this season.
With all the question marks on the offensive line and not sure whether or not the Browns can draft enough help to make a difference, I do not see Barnidge repeating last season’s spectacular numbers. Although, I do see him as one of the better tight ends and a solid contributor, with high upside for red zone touchdowns.
Prediction: 65 Receptions – 820 Yards – 6 Touchdowns