Welcome back to another installment of the 2017 Rookie Profile series. Recently Cory Evans and I have really been giving you some in-depth looks at the running back rookie class that’s getting ready to be drafted soon. This time we turn our attention to a playmaker that is capable of catching and leaping over the competition in front of him, literally. That player is the University of Miami’s TE David Njoku. (pronounced nJOE-koo)
The U is no stranger to producing some of the most elite tight ends that the NFL as seen (Greg Olsen, Jimmy Graham, and even Jeremy Shockey. Coming out of his high school, Njoku won the national championship as a senior for the high jump which he got up to seven feet! For someone that sits at 6’4″ and at that time weighed in the 220 pounds range, that’s some incredible athleticism. Let’s take a look at his combine statistics to see how he did and measured up against the other ends in his draft class.
NFL Scouting Combine
|Height/ Weight||40-Yard Dash||Bench Press||Vertical Jump||Broad Jump||3-Cone Drill|
|6'4"/ 246 Pounds||4.64 Seconds||21 Reps||37.5 Inches||133 Inches||6.97 Seconds|
If we just looked at the measurables of height and weight alone, he added over 20 pounds of muscle at the college level while some scouts are saying he could put on about 10 more. The biggest thing to take away here is just like he did well in high school in track, it transcended into his combine results with the vertical and broad jump. Both ranked 3rd overall amongst incoming tight ends, as well as ranking 3rd with his three-cone drill. Being agile and able to go up to get a pass is of no issue. He showed he can hurdle over defenders, flip over them in order to get additional yardage, and dive into the end zone. We have a unique athletic freak on hand. Let’s take a look at his strengths and weaknesses from his time as a Hurricane.
|Year||Receptions/ Receiving Yards||Yards Per Catch Avg||Receiving Touchdowns|
|2015||21 Receptions/ 362 Yards||17.2 Yards||1 Touchdown|
|2016||43 Receptions/ 698 Yards||16.2 Yards||8 Touchdowns|
David Njoku is one of the youngest prospects coming into the draft this year at the age of 20. What’s also exciting other than possibly getting years of production is the fact that last year he was also lining up at wide receiver. Being able to run very precise routes and having the ability to create separation and get open and just push defenders out of the way has become Njoku’s specialty. Having that extra knowledge with the route trees and as well as having 10″ hands has helped David elevate his game in just the last year.
The spike in receptions, yards, and touchdowns tells us the tale of the tape. He’s really just a big time seam buster and can make things happen. It’s easy and almost second nature for him to stick a foot in the ground and break in either direction at a 90-degree angle in shorter routes. He has this remarkable acceleration part of his game to widen the window for quarterbacks to throw to him. Njoku can throttle up his speed in the open field at the drop of a hat. When he catches it on the move, there’s always the potential for a ton of yards after the catch. He has even moved in the right direction with his hands and quickness to get last second push-off defenders and still get his hands up to secure the catch. His time at wideout helps him find soft spots against zone play which is necessary at the next level. He can play outside, from the slot, and in-line positions as a true jack-of-all-trades at lining up at the scrimmage.
Although he will likely have a great opportunity to make an impact within a few short years, there are some things Njoku will have to work on as he’s still new to the TE position, especially in terms of blocking. He needs to add weight to handle in-line blocking as a pro coming into the league. More weight in muscle, especially in his legs, will be better to keep more defenders in front of him and be more successful in blocking responsibilities. His hands tend to be too high and wide at the point of attack against the lineman. The main criticism overall for Njoku is his inconsistency when it came to drops. He had eight drops over the last two seasons for a drop rate over 11 percent, simply unacceptable. He will hopefully learn to get his head around and find the football quicker against those big linebackers lingering in the secondary as well as safeties. Still, this is all mainly nitpicking for the most part.
This is the first article in this series that I’ve written where the re-draft fantasy impact could be almost same year production as the year he was drafted. The Steelers, Broncos, Dolphins, and Giants are all really great fits for an athlete of his caliber to come in and be the true TE1 for them. Because he’s going to be a rookie, most will likely let Njoku fall into later rounds in redraft leagues. You may be able to snatch this guy up way past the first 10 rounds and could benefit greatly. Think of him as a sleeper pick, but has a high upside to really become a tier 1 TE status in the near future. I know that’s a hot take, but it’s literally the ceiling for this dude. Even if you don’t plug him in at your TE spot, depending on if you have flex spots that include tight ends, he would be a great stack there during some weeks as well.
When it comes to dynasty purposes, this is really a great year to add a TE like David Njoku to your roster. His NFL comparison is another Miami alumni in Greg Olsen, which is certainly saying a lot. Currently, in rookie mock drafts, he’s been seen as high as pick 1.10 all the way down to 2.12. This fluctuation is due to such a deep draft class and the needs needed for each team. If you’re stacked at RB and WR, this would be a good time to trade back and maybe focus on grabbing Njoku later in round 1 or keep trading back to round 2 if he drops that far. This way you could collect picks for 2018 or add players from other teams trading for those spots to increase your chances of a #FootclanTitle and strengthen your overall roster.
Stay tuned as the 2017 Rookie Profile continues on as we get even closer to the NFL Draft in less than two weeks! Hope you enjoyed the read and we will see you next time #Footclan!