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Pick: Round 1, Pick 29
Position: Tight End
School: University of Miami
Weight: 246 lbs.
After already making two selections in the first round, the Browns surprised many when they traded the 33rd pick and a fourth rounder for the 29th pick, which they would then use on David Njoku. He is a big, athletic tight end out of Miami.
Fellow tight end Gary Barnidge had his season of fame, but the franchise evidently had other plans for the future of the position, as the front office decided to cut the veteran shortly after they drafted Njoku.
What Njoku brings to the table is an added threat in the passing game. Standing at 6’4” with a 246-pound frame, he provides a massive target for whoever happens to be manning the quarterback position for the Browns this season.
On top of his height, he possesses an impressive vertical jumping ability, recording a 37.5-inch vertical jump at this spring’s combine. His leaping ability stems in part from his time as a national champion high jumper in high school.
Dane Brugler of CBS Sports calls Njoku a “loose athlete with freakish ease of movement.” He also notes the New Jersey native’s big play ability with 17.2% of his career catches going for 30+ yards.
Considering the size and athletic ability that Njoku possesses, the sky is the limit for him as a receiving tight end. His best features draw many similarities to Redskins tight end Jordan Reed.
While he has ways to go in his development, scouts tend to agree that Njoku has a ceiling as high as any tight end in the draft. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. had high praise for the ex-Hurricane’s career outlook, saying that he “could be an All-Pro.”
Despite his potential, Njoku is relatively new to the position and has to improve as a blocker. As a result, he will likely see some time in the slot or even line up as a wide receiver. Considering this, projects show some growing pains in his rookie season, especially with the high amount of experience he will get.
Njoku can be accurately described as a raw prospect, but with the right development and a comfortable system, he can make himself into one of the NFL’s elite tight ends.
“He is still growing into his body and has to add to his play strength, but his play-making potential and elite traits should make him a first-round pick and a future Pro Bowler,” said NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein before the draft.
With his athletic traits and big play ability, Njoku projects to be featured in the Browns’ offense from the get go, likely getting the starting job in Week 1.
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