Name: David Njoku
Position: Tight End
Pro Team: Cleveland Browns
College Team: Miami
Draft Status: Round One, Pick No. 29 Overall
- Height: 6’4’’
- Weight: 246 Pounds
- Arm Length: 35 ¼’’
- Hand Size: 10’’
- Bench Press: 21
- 40-Yard-Dash: 4.64
- 20-Yard-Shuttle: 4.34
- 3-Cone: 6.97
- Vertical: 37.5’’
- Broad Jump: 133’’
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Njoku’s size and athleticism is his major strength, because he has enough size to be a mismatch for defensive backs but also the speed and quickness to blow by linebackers. He’s going to be very tough to cover at the next level. Unlike most tight ends, he’s a natural receiver who can easily get in and out of his breaks. He can stretch the seam and find the open holes in zone coverage. With strong hands and a very aggressive nature, he’s almost impossible to guard at the catch point. His diverse skill set allows him to lineup as an inline tight end or split out in the slot.
Although he’s a willing blocker who doesn’t shy away from contact, he does however, struggle when it comes to digging his cleats in the dirt, setting his base and maintaining his positioning while delivering his block. Good pass rushers will easily take advantage of his inefficiencies as a pass blocker. According to PFF, during the last two seasons he had seven drops on 71 catchable targets, generating a 9.9 percent drop rate on catchable passes. He also needs to refine his route running and diversify his route tree portfolio.
The Cleveland Browns instantly cut incumbent starter Gary Barnidge the following day after drafting Njoku. There is barely any competition left on the roster for him to battle for the starting tight end spot on the team. He’s going to get a chance to be the team’s starter in the first year of his career and will get the opportunity to develop his skill set on the fly. Most of the time, rookie tight ends will have to wait a few years in order to grasp a large market share of the snaps, Njoku however, will get a chance to submerge his imprint in the offense during the first year of his career.
The Browns are currently rebuilding through the draft using an analytic based approach. Their method requires them to obtain draft picks in bunches via trades with the philosophy to take as many swings at the piñata as possible to increase the odds of them hitting on one of their draft day lottery tickets. This means that the Browns are not against drafting another tight end if one falls to them in the draft, because they are in the business of acquiring as much talent as possible.
Another thing to keep in consideration is that the team doesn’t have a clear cut starting quarterback. Cody Kessler, Kevin Hogan, Brock Osweiler and DeShone Kizer are the four quarterbacks who will be battling it out during training camp. Also, the team always seems to be rebuilding and have been the laughing stock of the league for quite sometime with only one winning season in the last 14 years. Their recent transactions and draft picks support the argument that they could possibly be turning things around, but until that happens, they are still the Browns.
Njoku should start and see a large snap share instantly during his rookie season. Unless something unforeseen happens, like an injury, he should be fantasy relevant this season. Expect him to gradually develop from season to season into one of the top tight ends in the league. Don’t be surprised if he has some games this season where he completely blows the doors off the defense.
The only things that could prevent him from becoming one of top tight ends in the league would be injuries, off the field issues or an inability to grasp the speed of the game at the NFL level. All things we don’t have control over and won’t know until he starts his career with the Browns. There’s a good chance that he becomes a top five fantasy tight end on a yearly basis and he also has enough athleticism, upside and potential passing volume within the offense to challenge Rob Gronkowski for the top spot at the position in the near future.
There aren’t really any tight ends who are currently in the league who directly compare to Njoku, but there are a few that posses some similar traits. Travis Kelce has a comparable profile as both players are highly athletic and were a little bit raw coming out of college. The main difference between the two players, it that Kelce weighs about 15 pounds more than Njoku and has more size to his frame.
Coby Fleener is another comparable player. Like Njoku, they both weigh in the 245 range and are extremely athletic. Fleener however, was a more complete prospect coming out college and is a little bit faster than Njoku.
Projected Range for Rookie Drafts
Per DLF’s Rookie ADP, Njoku is currently being selected around the late first to early second round of rookie drafts with an ADP of 11.60 while on average being the third tight end selected off the board. MFL’s Rookie ADP has him being selected in a similar range with a 12.71 ADP. In my drafts, I have personally seen him get drafted anywhere from the middle of the first round to the early second round, leaving me to believe that his value could fluctuate from a league to league basis.
With that being said, I would recommend being very aggressive if you wish to acquire Njoku in your rookie drafts because it’s hard to tell where he will fall in your draft. All it takes is one person to fall in love with him and pull the trigger sooner than expected. He’s a very talented prospect and is more than deserving of a first-round pick in rookie drafts. Just make sure to do your due diligence while trying to acquire his talents.
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