I’m going to go ahead and consider myself lucky that I’m writing this just before the 2017 NFL combine. If you haven’t heard of him yet, you’ll hear about David Njoku so much for the next 2 months that you’ll get tired of it. What you won’t get tired of is watching his film. By the way, if you haven’t yet done that, I highly suggest that.
The New Jersey native is set to blow up the NFL combine as his draft stock will continue to skyrocket. His superior athletic ability is evident on the tape, and the fact that he was a National Champion in the high jump during his high school years solidifies that even further. Njoku’s combination of size, speed and athleticism has NFL scouts drooling. At the moment he’s mocked in the 20 range on average, but I’m projecting him to be a top 15 pick by the time April rolls around – as it’s symmetrical with my overall draft grade on him.
Njoku finished a 2-year stint with the Miami Hurricanes with solid production to his name. The redshirt sophomore finished with 64 catches for 1,060 receiving yards, 9 TD while averaging 16.6 yards per catch – tremendous numbers for a guy who started only a handful of games due to seniority proving to be more valuable on the depth chart. While the consensus seems to have Alabama’s O.J. Howard as the draft’s top TE, I’m going against the grain and rank Njoku at that spot.
Name: David Njoku
School: Miami (FL)
Class: Sophomore (RS)
Comparison: Eric Ebron (Detroit Lions)
Draft Grade: Top 15
— Jonathan Valencia (@JonValencia_WiB) February 23, 2017
Positives: Physical specimen and athletic freak – bound to blowup the combine and ascend his draft stock even further up draft boards. Combination of size and speed alone poses a mismatch. Natural hands catcher. Tremendous speed for his size and position – possesses the ability to stretch the field. Smooth, quick release into his route. Easy to find over the middle of the field. Lethal after the catch in the open field. Makes things happen on catches out in the flats. Heavily utilized on screens at Miami. Understands how to cutoff angles of defenders in pursuit. Proportioned body strength and can break high/low tackles. Keeps his legs churning and carries the pile. Good balance when engaged by tacklers. Finishes plays especially in the redzone – launches off his feet and shows unmatched will to jump/leap for the pylon. Better blocker than given credit for. Shows he can twist the defender away from the ball carrier. Sets the edge well against the run. Displays good leg drive against smaller opponents and can push them back. Physical push as a run blocker to create separation for his running back. Gets underneath defenders with good leverage. Wins in-line blocking battles. Long arms and keeps them extended in blocks. Agile lateral movement along the line of scrimmage. Wins one-on-one battles with physicality and tracks back to the ball well. Still a raw product with unlimited upside and room to grow. Easy going demeanor that coaches can work with. Very coachable.
Negatives: Struggles to reel in catches when forced to extend arms out. Route running needs more refining. Tends to run back into a crowd on comeback routes. Footwork too loose when bursting off plant foot. Slow transition and acceleration after the catch at times. Considering his athleticism, would like to see him high point the ball more. Still needs improvement as an overall blocker. Shows confusion when blocking in space – particularly on screens.
Outlook: If you’re a member of Draft Twitter, you’re aware of the immense hype David Njoku has received over the past month or two. Before even watching Njoku, I didn’t think he would live up to the hype – my thinking was that he was just another one of those athletic TEs with size who people drool over. Boy was I wrong. Njoku is a complete tight end, and his combination of size, speed and freakish athleticism is what makes him a blue-collar prospect. He gets some flack due to his ability as a blocker, but I saw nothing wrong, and actually like what I saw – plus, he’s still going to improve which is a scary thought. Njoku is going to be an All-Pro in the NFL and emerge as one of the best TEs in the NFL within only a couple of years. O.J.Howard is the talk of the town when it comes to the position, but I actually have Njoku as my #1 TE in this year’s draft class.