Prior to this season, Cleveland Browns TE David Njoku’s career-best receptions and receiving yards came in 2018 with 56 receptions for 639 yards. He has had four receiving touchdowns three times in his career but never more.
Early in his career, Njoku’s blocking and hands were the constant cause of consternation. He has drastically improved as a blocker while steadily improving his hands since his rookie season but sometimes narratives are hard to shake.
A first-round pick of the Browns in 2017, Njoku hit free agency with the expectation of cashing in without the resume that would typically lead to it.
Cleveland signed him to a huge deal worth over $50 million leading many fans to frustration.
So far in 2022, the investment in the tight end has paid off. Njoku has 24 receptions through five games with 289 yards receiving and 17 first downs created. At this point, he is on pace to easily eclipse his 2018 season.
Njoku has put himself in rare air among tight ends this year:
Only three TEs rank top-5 in route share and target share:— Scott Barrett (@ScottBarrettDFB) October 13, 2022
- Mark Andrews (1st, 1st)
- Travis Kelce (2nd, 4th)
- David Njoku (3rd, 5th)
Njoku has 70 yards in 3 straight games. Only 4 other TEs have accomplished this feat over the past 3 seasons – Kelce, Andrews, Waller, Kittle.
He has been so good that he earned a rare, significant compliment from New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick:
Bill Belichick just said this of David Njoku:— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) October 12, 2022
"After Ozzie [Newsome], probably the best tight end the Browns have ever had."
Obviously, the Browns will need Njoku to keep up the production for his contract to be worth it over the next four seasons but the early returns are promising. Promising enough that it will be interesting how Belichick schemes things to try to limit the impressive Cleveland tight end.
How surprised are you at Njoku’s early season success?