Nov 26, 2016; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Hurricanes tight end David Njoku (86) runs for a touchdown during the second half against Duke Blue Devils at Hard Rock Stadium. Miami won 40-21. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
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In what should be a loaded 2017 NFL draft class of tight ends, David Njoku remains an enigma. Could he be a little too good to be true?
School: Miami (Fl.)
Year: RS Sophomore
Weight: 245 lbs
A tough kid from New Jersey, he was a high jump national champion before he even got serious about his football career. No surprise he was highly recruited out of high school. The fact he went to Miami isn’t a big shock either. The program has a long history of producing high quality tight ends and wide receivers.
The prerequisite skill set of a “move” tight end. Has solid size coupled with the athleticism and speed to be an instant factor in the passing game.
Aggressive mentality and good vision. Both show up best when he’s running after the catch. Strong frame allows him to shed tacklers for extra yards.
Njoku is dangerous enough when he gets out on his passing route where safeties or linebackers have to try covering him. To think he makes it even harder on them by being able to run with vision and strength after the catch is a scary thought. This play shows it. He sells his block just long enough to lull the defense to sleep. Then he gets wide open in the flat, makes the catch and easily shakes the only tackle attempt short of the end zone.
Has experience playing in-line as a blocker. When using his hands and long arms properly he has shown he won’t be a liability on that end.
He may look like a pure receiving tight end but don’t underestimate Njoku when blocking. He uses in hands and long arms to full effect here, walling the edge defender away from the play. Then he uses his strong lower body to drive them back even further. Though the run goes for a loss, Njoku did his job in every facet of that sequence.
Already has that subtle veteran ability to create just enough separation with a push off without drawing flags for offensive pass interference.
Spring in his lower body. Not only does it show in his acceleration but also his leaping capacity. Will make him even more dangerous in 50/50 situations.
Somewhat underpowered in his upper body. Bigger defensive lineman will be able to shed his blocking attempts unless the technique is perfect.
Though he’s athletic and fast for his size, he’s not especially quick. Speed edge rushers should be a problem for him in obvious passing situations.
Still somewhat inexperienced against major competition, having played just two seasons with the Hurricanes since 2015.
Pro Comparison: Greg Olsen
It’s no coincidence the two went to the same school. Greg Olsen took a little longer than normal to find his niche in the NFL. Once he did it’s been a fantastic run. The three-time Pro Bowler is one of the best receiving tight ends in the league. His speed and athleticism are a constant danger to defenses. This often overshadows how committed he is to his blocking responsibilities. Njoku is much the same way, though he may be an even better blocker.
Projection: 1st Round
In all honesty there isn’t much to dislike about David Njoku. Aside from a minor lack of experience he exhibits all the qualities that teams look for in a future star tight end. He’s big enough and fast enough to create mismatches in the passing game and he does more than his fair share as a blocker. It would be a major story if he somehow fell out of the top 32 picks.