American Football

Browns NFL Draft Profile: TE A.J. Barner


COLLEGE FOOTBALL: FEB 01 Reese’s Senior Bowl
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Barner could be on Cleveland’s radar on day 3 of the NFL Draft

The Cleveland Browns are heading into the 2024 NFL Draft with a plethora of positions in mind, and tight end is most likely one of them.

David Njoku will undoubtedly be one of the best, most athletic tight ends in the league heading into the 2024 season. It’s going to be fun watching him in Cleveland’s “new” offense this year but the team’s depth behind him could drive Andrew Berry and Co. to draft a tight end next week.

A.J. Barner is a player who could be on Cleveland’s radar heading into draft weekend due to his in-line-to-slot versatility, size, and overall potential as a TE2.


A.J. Barner


Tight End


6’6”, 251 pounds


University of Michigan


2023: 15 games – 22 recs., 249 rec. yards, 11.3 avg., 1 TD

Overall: 40 career games – 64 recs., 610 rec. yards, 9.5 avg., 5 TD

Relative Athletic Score

“Big Board” ranking at time of publishing


What experts are saying

“In-line tight end who continues improving as a run blocker but is unlikely to offer much as a pass catcher. He was a captain at Indiana before transferring to Michigan, and scouts say he attacks practices and weight training with a single-minded obsession to get better and compete. He’s technically sound in the early stages of the run block but needs to improve with his positioning to create better lanes for the runner. He can handle some pass protection but needs to keep improving. Barner’s role might be a little limited as a blocking Y tight end with below-average pass-catching traits, but he should earn playing time in the future.” – Lance Zierlein, NFL Draft Analyst

“AJ Barner is a desirable blocking tight end with the tools to blossom into a useful pass-catcher in the NFL.” – Derrik Klassen

“AJ Barner is an untapped flex weapon in space with the competitiveness and technique as a run blocker to, at minimum, serve as a TE2 for an offense.” – The Draft Network


  • Despite being “only” 251 lbs., Barner is one of the best run/pass blockers in the class
  • Great length for the position (33”+ arms)
  • Great hands, above-average at the catch point
  • Adequate play strength after the catch
  • Does a great job of bailing out his QB when plays break down


  • Needs to show more explosion out of his stance at the POA
  • Raw as a route-runner, looks stiff in certain phases
  • Needs to work on hand usage when sifting through traffic to get off the LOS

Browns player drafting could impact

Giovanni Ricci. Though Ricci was recently signed in free agency, the team customized his contract so that less than 10% of his deal is guaranteed. If they decide to move on from him after training camp, they’d actually create an extra $1 million in cap space.

Barner has the talent and ability to work his way up the depth chart as a rookie, potentially competing for TE2 snaps with Jordan Akins in 2024.


Medium. The Browns have one of the top tight ends in the league in David Njoku but the team’s depth behind him is a little shaky. Jordan Akins has shown the ability to be serviceable when on the field, but the team still needs to add athleticism and versatility to the tight end room.

As mentioned earlier, Cleveland signed Gio Ricci in free agency but made it so he’d be expendable if the team found another player to compete with him in the summer.

What are your thoughts on A.J. Barner? Join fellow Browns fans in the comment section below.

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