Jan 9, 2017; Tampa, FL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide tight end O.J. Howard (88) runs the ball while guarded by Clemson Tigers safety Jadar Johnson (18) during the fourth quarter in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports 

The tight end position is absolutely critical for the Cleveland Browns to fill before 2017. Is the solution as simple as picking the top ranked player of the position, O.J. Howard?

The Cleveland Browns will be searching to fill a lot of positions during this upcoming draft, but quite possibly none more urgently on the offensive side of the ball than tight end.

The team does have Gary Barnidge, of course, a reliable receiver and blocker. But as two-tight end formations become commonplace in the game, the Browns must upgrade from Seth DeValve. The top tight end in the draft, according to many draft experts including ESPN’s Todd McShay, is O.J. Howard of Alabama.

Howard, who started in games for all four of his college seasons with the Crimson Tide, was an essential element of Alabama’s receiving game and blocking unit. Last season, Howard recorded 595 yards through the air and scored three touchdowns. A factor in the receiving game, a majority of his receptions went for 10 yards or more during his career at Alabama.

At 6-foot-6, the 251-pound tight end is a sizable target, but can also make linebackers miss in space. This would bode well for the Browns who need more yards after the catch, one ability Howard would bring without a doubt.

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