Fellow Browns fans, I imagine you were on the edge of your seats (or standing the ENTIRE time) during the first round of the NFL Draft this past April. And I’d bet that you were jumping up at the same time as me when you heard the name “David Njoku” called with the Browns’ pick at No. 29. I’m excited when I think about Njoku joining the Browns franchise as he is already reminiscent of the all-time great Browns offensive star, Ozzie Newsome.
Known by his catchy nickname, “The Wizard,” Ozzie Newsome rose to stardom as a fan favorite at the tight end position in Cleveland in the 1980’s. Fans of the era will remember the many times “The Wizardry of Oz” flashed on the jumbotron as he made spectacular touchdown catches. Some would argue that he single-handedly changed the entire landscape and trajectory of the way the tight end position is viewed.
Built like a true, dominant power forward at 6’2” 232 pounds, no one wanted to cover him! He was elite at getting off the line of scrimmage, ran with an explosively long stride, had the speed to beat almost every safety and was gifted with the hands of a great wide receiver. Ozzie was great in contact down the field to get himself space and to get open and that’s where he shined physically. He was far-and-away more of a receiving threat than a blocking threat. Ozzie was too hungry for the football – he knew that his position was designed and intended for a balance of blocking and receiving — but his mindset was: Feed the Wizard.
On NFL Film’s Top 100 Players, former Bengal’s tight end Bob Trumpy was documented saying this about #73 all-time ranked Ozzie Newsome: “It used to be that the tight end was the number two receiver in the progression, you know, flanker 1, tight end 2, wide receiver 1, tight end 2. Ozzie made it tight end 1, flanker 2. He changed it that much!” Newsome finished his 13-season Browns career as one of the greatest receiving tight ends to ever play the game with 662 receptions, 7,980 yards and 47 touchdowns and eventually a permanent spot in Canton at the Hall of Fame.
It’s hard to not embrace the nostalgia when the Browns just welcomed their newest tight end who already boasts a great nickname: “The Chief”. David Njoku is a 6’4” 246-pound athletic phenom already known for his sensational speed and receiving ability out of the University of Miami (pretty much the factory for all-time great tight ends).
His physical attributes and skill set sound strangely familiar. He more than possesses a power forward-like build as well as the “feed-the-TE” mindset that The Wizard once brought to the Dawg Pound. And if the sound of that potential comes to bear even somewhat close to the thrill and offensive production that came with Ozzie Newsome, Browns fans will be ecstatic.
Ozzie didn’t win himself a Super Bowl until he was a GM in Baltimore, but my hope is that David Njoku can change that part of the narrative for himself as a player and use his 44.5” vertical to help jump the Browns into Super Bowl contention in the very near future. Could The Chief be the second coming of The Wizard? He certainly looks the part and possesses the potential to do so and I obviously hope he surpasses the Great Wizard of Oz himself.
Follow the author: @ChadPainterEXP
Feature Image Created By: Mike Bartow, Image ESPN
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