We thought the Cleveland Browns were done after they made their second pick of the first round, but then they traded up from No. 33 (the first pick of day two) to get back into the first round at No. 29 overall. That trade was done with the Green Bay Packers, and with the 29th pick, the Browns selected TE David Njoku.
Cleveland also gave up No. 108 to the Packers, which is the first pick of the fourth round. So really, to ensure they secured Njoku, they basically gave up the top pick in the fourth round.
When the staff at Dawgs By Nature compiled our Browns big boards, Njoku was listed as the No. 21 overall player on our cumulative big board. Here is a scouting report from CBS Sports' Dane Brugler:
A part-time starter at Miami (Fla.), Njoku shared the starting tight end responsibilities the past two seasons for the Hurricanes, lining up mostly inline and flexed in the slot – was the national high-jump champion (6’11”) as a senior at Cedar Grove and jumped in college. His freakish athleticism for the position leaps off the screen, using his seam-busting speed and dynamic YAC skills to be a downfield playmaker (averaged 16.6 yards per catch over his career). Njoku is a balanced blocker with potential to be above average in this area, but needs to develop his functional strength, technique and consistency. Although he is a better athlete than football player right now, Njoku is dripping with natural talent and has the elite athleticism to stress every level of the defense – still raw in several areas, but massive upside to be a playmaking NFL starter earns him a top-20 overall grade.
And here is what Pro Football Focus said about Njoku:
If you’ve ever wished that your favorite team had Jordan Reed on it, now is your chance to get him, because David Njoku is his clone. Njoku isn’t overly elusive, but he’s extremely effective with the ball in his hands due to a combination of his size, top-end speed and a willingness to just punch a defense in the mouth. He averaged 11.2 yards after the catch in 2016, the most by all draft-eligible tight ends by over a yard. There are concerns with Njoku’s ability as a run blocker—he graded out in the middle of the pack, and can get too tall while moving laterally—but his receiving ability makes him a Day 1 starter and someone you want to feed the ball too often.
Here are some quotes from scouts’ assessment on Njoku, as collected by Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
- “Everybody just seems to like the guy. But he is raw as can be. He’s a backup for them. I don’t know how you take an unproductive backup guy from an average team and take him in the first or second round … he’s a track guy but as far as a football player, he is a long ways away.”
- “Lot of wow plays. An athletic freak.”
- “Gonna be a star. He’s better RAC (run after the catch) than O.J. Howard. O.J.’s better, but this kid has up side.”
- “He’s a beautiful looking thing. His broad jump (11-1) and vertical jump (37 ½) were out of this world. Very explosive linear but when he runs he’s kind of stiff upper body. Little herky-jerky. Last year he had a lot of drops; this year he cleaned up his hands a little bit. He needs a boot up his (expletive) but he’s got a lot of ability. His blocking is OK. I don’t know how self-motivated he is to be a really good player.”
How He Fits the Browns
I love the pick. The Browns needed a big playmaker at tight end to complement Gary Barnidge, and Njoku is very athletic and can have a big year with Hue Jackson. Best of all? He has the potential to be a great blocking tight end as well. I support moving up to grab Njoku at this point.
What do you think, Browns fans?
How do you grade the Browns’ selection of TE David Njoku at No. 29 overall?
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