Former NDC standout Zaire Mitchell-Paden working hard on Browns' practice squad

·4 min read

Sep. 17—Zaire Mitchell-Paden is easy to spot on the Browns practice field for more than one reason. His sheer size, 6-foot-5 and 257 pounds, makes him stand out, and so does the hard work he puts in as a tight end on the Browns' practice squad.

Mitchell-Paden is a success story just to get this far on his football journey, but the former star for Notre Dame College in South Euclid isn't satisfied just playing on the scout team and mimicking the tight end of the team the Browns are playing next. Like every other player on the practice squad, he is hopeful his hard work pays off in the form of a call-up to the 53-man roster some day.

"I'm trying to stay on point with what the offense has going on, so I'm making sure I study my playbook even though I'm playing scout team offense," Mitchell-Paden said before a recent practice. "I'm keeping my body ready for any moment, so I'm just staying on the ball with things.

"I work on the technique the coaches teach me and put it together with the other team's offense, making it similar to what we have going on and all those things."

From Notre Dame College to the #Browns practice squad, Zaire Mitchell-Paden is working to take the next step in his football career. pic.twitter.com/sQp1lBgHdz

— Jeff Schudel (@jsproinsider) September 16, 2022

Mitchell-Paden was playing football and basketball at a high school in Baltimore, Md. when the Notre Dame College football coaching staff became interested in him while scouting another player on his basketball team. Mitchell-Paden played four years at NDC, earned his bachelor's degree in business management, and then played one season of football at Florida Atlantic University to gain exposure to stiffer competition.

"He was definitely raw when he got here," NDC tight ends coach C.J. Robertston told News-Herald Sports Editor Mark Podolski after the Browns signed Mitchell-Paden. "He was one of those two-sport guys. Athletically, he's got every tool you want.

"The things we worked on were redefining his technique and his mental awareness. To his credit, he was a hard worker. I remember being done with practice, watching film, and I get a knock on door. He comes in, sits next to me and we watched film. We did that all the time."

Zaire Mitchell-Paden formerly of Notre Dame College in South Euclid, is wearing 80 on the #Browns practice squad. Here he catches a pass from Joshua Dobbs (15) in practice. @NDCFB pic.twitter.com/pCM2jfsO0G

— Jeff Schudel (@jsproinsider) September 17, 2022

Mitchell-Paden was not drafted, but the Browns wasted no time signing him shortly after the draft concluded April 30. They offered him a $10,000 signing bonus to make sure no other team lured him away. As a player with two or fewer accrued NFL seasons, he makes $11,500 a week on the practice squad. The money is not guaranteed, so a player on the practice squad has a strong incentive to do everything asked of him.

"He's very big. Very strong, strong hands," Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski said. "He works very hard. He's in here all hours working on his craft. A good young player."

Mitchell-Paiden caught 90 passes for 1,206 yards in his four seasons playing for the Falcons. He had 53 receptions for 573 yards and six touchdowns as a junior in 2019.

COVID-19 forced the Falcons to play an abbreviated season in the spring of 2020. Mitchell-Paden caught 14 passes for 182 yards in five games. The shortened season meant he had one more year of eligibility, and he took advantage of it. He caught nine passes for 90 yards and one touchdown last fall in 12 games at Florida Atlantic.

—The Browns host the Steelers on Sept. 21 in their only "Thursday Night Football" game in 2022. Thursday night games are shown on Amazon Prime. But if you do not have a subscription to that service, don't despair. The Browns-Steelers game will be televised in the Cleveland area on WEWS-TV 5.

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