Even in an NFL draft class that features 14 incoming rookies, Cleveland Browns tight end Seth DeValve has an opportunity to contribute heavily in his first year. The hybrid target should be able to create mismatches due to his raw athleticism, and he continues to hone his craft as newly-minted NFL tight end. But he'll have to prove himself to earn a spot behind the Browns' Pro Bowl tight end, Gary Barnidge.
As the team prepares for the start of training camp, the Princeton product discussed where he might fit in the Browns offense, the coaching staff and recent news surrounding the team in part two of the Orange and Brown Report's exclusive interview.
OBR: As a flex tight end/wide receiver at Princeton, there are concerns about your abilities as an in-line blocker, is this an area of concern for you?
SD: “It’s not a concern, but it is an area I continue to work on. I believe I possess the raw essentials. For example, I love contact. I love being in the trenches. That’s never bothered me. I was originally recruited out of high school to play defense. I loved blowing people up from the safety position. I’m trying to learn how to take that aggression and hone it with technique used by guys who played tight end for a long time.
“I’ve only played tight end in a hybrid role to this point. I’m classically trained as a wide receiver and not a tight end. As such, I’ve been focusing a lot on technique. Coach [Greg] Seamon has been diligent in teaching me, and I believe I’ve improved in a short time.”
OBR: Tight ends coach Greg Seamon actually spent the last 11 years as a scout in the Cincinnati Bengals front office. What does he bring to the Browns organization as a position coach?
SD: “He’s been in the game a long time. He’s been an offensive coordinator, scout and now he’s back into coaching. He knows football extremely well. He’s also been a good motivator. I’ve never quite played under someone like him who understands the technique and game so well. Also, the way he administers the coaching points in the way he does makes it really great to be around him. I’m not sure you can say that about every coach. As such, I really enjoy being around and learning from him. He has a coaching style I believe the guys respond to.”
OBR: Meanwhile, Coach @Hue Jackson is also viewed as someone who is constantly upbeat and positive. What does he tell you and the team as he attempts to change the culture in Berea?
SD: “The emphasis is always about being a pro. We talk about what it means to be a professional all of the time. We have sayings up on the wall to remind us what it means to be a pro.
“It involves being punctual, preparation, your effort level and how you finish. There are all sorts of things that go into being a pro that need to be learned. It doesn’t come natural especially for rookies who have never had a job like this before. Even guys who have been in the league need to be reminded of these things.
“He stresses to us that we have the ability in the room to have an incredible football team, but we have to be pros and actually listen to the advice.”
OBR: Knowing the type of offense Coach Jackson prefers—which includes multiple-tight end sets—should this provide plenty of opportunities for playing time and to be productive as a rookie?
SD: “This is one of the reasons why Cleveland is a great spot for me. That has a lot to do with it. I also think I fit what we want to do offensively, and I believe I can contribute quite a bit to what the offense wants to accomplish.
“If I’m a pro like I’m supposed to be and improve like I have, I will be a contributor to this team.”
OBR: Two major discussion points arose when you were drafted. The first involved your overall athleticism. You tested off the charts in a predraft workout.
[DeValve posted a 4.68-second 40-yard dash, 1.54-second 10-yard split, 22 reps on bench press, 40-inch vertical, 4.18-second short shuttle, 6.96-second 3-cone and over 10 feet in the broad jump. Each of those numbers would have been counted among the top-five tight end performances at the NFL combine in Indianapolis. In fact, his short shuttle as well as the broad and vertical jumps would have ranked first overall.]
Vice president of player personnel Andrew Berry stated you were in Cleveland to create mismatches. How does your athleticism translate to the field?
SD: “I do a lot of things at my size almost nobody else can do. Part of it is due to how I carry my weight. When people look at me, they tend to guess I’m about 30 pounds lighter than I really am. I don’t have an explanation for why that is. I’m deceptively heavy and athletic as a result.
“I have explosiveness off the line, soft hands and jumping ability. These things should help cause mismatches against the linebackers I’ll be going up against most of the time.”
EDITOR’s NOTE: DeValve weighed 245 pounds at his personal pro day and the Browns official site lists him at the same weight, but the tight end mentioned he currently weighs 255 pounds during the interview.
OBR: A topic you’ve addressed at length but still needs to be discussed is the current health of your feet after offseason corrective surgery. How healthy are you currently, and should fans worry about a long-term prognosis?
SD: “There shouldn’t be any concerns, because I don’t have any concerns. In a recent workout, I completed 40 40-yard dashes, and I didn’t have any problems with my feet.”
OBR: With the recent injury to veteran Desmond Bryant, what was your reaction to the situation? More importantly, how big of a loss is this for the entire organization?
SD: “I was actually in the training room when he came in. At the time, I didn’t know what happened, what it was or any type of timetable. I don’t know exactly where he stands, but I do know Des. He’s an instrumental part of the defense. He and I have talked more than most, because we’re Ivy League guys.
“I hope he can return this season.”
OBR: In other recent news, what did you learn from Isaiah Crowell’s situation after he posted an offensive picture on social media?
SD: “I don’t want to say too much about it, but I learned we’re in the public spotlight and we have influence based on what we post. We’re not treated like ordinary people. What we do, say and post is under scrutiny. Whether it’s fair or not, it’s just the way it is.
“I actually don’t have a Twitter account. It’s partially due to protect myself from these kind of things. Isaiah’s recent issues just reinforces that stance.
“I hope the issues can be resolved, and it’s unfortunate.”
The first part of DeValve's interview can be found HERE