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PFW pegs TE David Njoku as Browns’ breakout offensive player in 2018

Can he deliver the goods after coaches have talked him up?

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Cleveland Browns Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Eric Edholm of Pro Football Weekly picked one offensive player from every team in the AFC who is candidate to have a breakout season in 2018.

In the AFC North, the Steelers were represented by TE Vance McDonald, the Ravens by WR Chris Moore, and the Bengals by RB Joe Mixon. The candidate named for Cleveland was second-year TE David Njoku:

After playing less than 47 percent of the team’s offensive snaps last season, Njoku reportedly is in line for a more fulltime workload this season. Part of the problem in Njoku’s rookie year, head coach Hue Jackson said, was that Njoku wore down physically by season’s end after a promising start. In his first five games he caught three TDs, and over the first half of the season he had multiple catches in every game. But in the final four games, Njoku caught a mere four passes on 11 targets. Jackson expects Njoku to see a big jump in Year 2, even with the Browns likely to feature Josh Gordon and Jarvis Landry — and perhaps even rookie Antonio Callaway — more often in the passing game. Where Njoku must be featured more is in the red zone. The Browns were far and away the most miserable team in red-zone productivity last season, and Njoku did not have a featured role down there (two catches, 8 yards, one TD on nine targets).

There is no doubt that Njoku needs to be utilized more effectively as a weapon, but it will be difficult to project how that translates to stats in Todd Haley’s new offense. Only so many yards and touchdowns can go around for Josh Gordon, Jarvis Landry, Corey Coleman, Njoku, Seth DeValve, and Duke Johnson.

Njoku has already received praise from his position coach this offseason for better hands, along with noting the intent to be more vertical with the tight ends in general in 2018.