The Cleveland Browns signed TE David Njoku to a huge extension this past season. Did they get what they wanted in return? He is paid almost the same money as Travis Kelce. Yet, are the numbers similar since the pay is?
In 2022, Njoku and Kelce’s stats: receptions – Njoku 58, Kelce 110; targets - Njoku 80, Kelce 152; yards - Njoku 628, Kelce1,338; yards per catch average - Njoku 10.8, Kelce 12.2; touchdowns - Njoku 4, Kelce 12; total yards from scrimmage - Njoku 620, Kelce 1,343; 100-yard games - Njoku 0, Kelce 6; yards after contact (YAC) - Njoku 338, Kelce 648; First down catches - Njoku 36, Kelce 78; 2022 Pro Bowl - Njoku No, Kelce Yes; 2022 All-Pro - Njoku No, Kelce Yes; career Pro Bowls - Njoku 0, Kelce 8; Super Bowl rings - Njoku 0, Kelce 1; 2022 base salary - Njoku $1.035 million, Kelce $2.893 million.
Houston, we have a problem.
What Browns fans want is their own Travis Kelce. And one was found in Mobile, Alabama at this year’s Reese’s Senior Bowl.
Luke Musgrave from Oregon State is having a sensational training camp. He is a huge target and is a very good blocker. He suffered a knee injury early in the 2022 season which made his career stats look not up to par. But make no mistake, the guy is an exceptional athlete.
Plus, Cleveland will most likely draft another tight end this year. His uncle, Bill Musgrave, played and coached in the NFL and is currently the OC at Cal so he has pedigree going.
A lot of really good tight ends have been drafted in a round other than the first round such as Jason Witten (3), Dwight Clark (10), Travis Kelce (3), Mark Bavaro (4), Rob Gronkowski (2), Shannon Sharpe (7), George Kittle (5), Mark Andrews (3), Ben Coates (5), and Pete Metzelaars (3).
Because of his size and incredible reach, Musgrave was utilized heavily in the passing game, but is an excellent blocker. He quickly reaches his assignment, where he then plays with good hand leverage to either slow down defenders in pass protection or move them to create rushing lanes. He has “big play” written all over him.
Before the Senior Bowl week, Musgrave was projected to be taken in Rounds 2-3.
TE Luke Musgrave – Oregon State
6’-6”, 250 pounds
Projected round: 2-3
DBN: What are you looking to prove to all the coaches and scouts this week at the Senior Bowl?
Musgrave: Just kind of what I can do. I think I got talent and I want to show it.
DBN: After your season-ending knee injury last year, what have you learned?
Musgrave: You got to make the most out of every situation. I have to stay mentally in the game.
DBN: What is your situation with that injured knee now?
Musgrave: The knee has been great, don’t even notice it. Legs are a different story. There’s one way to get into football shape and that is by playing football. I’m starting that process. But the knee is great. Football is football and I should be ready to get back out there.
DBN: Your dad and your uncle Bill both played quarterback. How are you not a quarterback?
Musgrave: In high school, I actually played quarterback. My uncle and my dad played quarterback, but for me it just wasn’t my thing. I like to hit people, and at that position you aren’t really doing that. So receiver was my next natural move, then to tight end as I got bigger.
DBN: With your size you look more as a blocker but you still have that receiver mentality. Correct?
Musgrave: I am willing to do both. I naturally understand routes and have a good feel for it. But blocking is what I spend most of my time on. That’s part of being an every down tight end. I want to be a great blocker and somebody that they can rely on in the passing game.
DBN: You tried to get back in time for the Oregon game, but missed it. Why come to the Senior Bowl?
Musgrave: I really wanted to get back for the Oregon game. I just miss the game. I haven’t played since September 10th, which is five months. Football is fun to me. Just going out there and letting it rip. It’s super fun to get out there against the best competition in a game that I have loved since second grade.
DBN: With NextGen stats, you were the fastest tight end at the Senior Bowl. What does your speed and your size allow you to do on the field?
Musgrave: It allows me to go out there and be physical and box out defenders when called upon to block.
DBN: Which NFL teams have spoken to you so far?
Musgrave: I have had a lot of formal interviews. They ask a lot of good questions and the scouts have all been good guys. It’s been fun, kinda chit-chat and get to know them as they get to know me.
DBN: What do you think scouts will say about you when they leave after this week?
Musgrave: I want them to see I am a better player than what I was before my injury. I’m completely healthy. I can offer versatility and am a competitor. Some have said I am just a blocker but I’m not. I have a full range of my skill sets. I can be moved around the formation because that’s where I really shine as a player.
DBN: What goes into playing the tight end position?
Musgrave: You’re not just a receiver and you’re not just a blocker. I just love the versatility that comes with it. You’re a little of both. You line up and block these quick defensive ends that are getting paid a lot of money to sack the quarterback. You also have to deal with defeating guys in coverage. You really have to do both.
DBN: One of your best plays was an over route at Oregon. Why was this so successful for you?
Musgrave: You decide the route depending on the zone. We call it a bridge route. It can be two-high or one-high. Depends on what they play, you create your break off that. If it’s Cover 2 you split the safeties. If it’s Cover 3 you break it hard down the line. With Cover 1, you go down about 10-12 yards and break hard. My speed becomes an asset with this route. But you have to be able to read what the defense is doing which dictates my route and how I can get open.
DBN: What is your goal going into the next level?
Musgrave: My goal is to be the best that’s ever played at my position.
DBN: What are you doing to get ready for the Combine?
Musgrave: The rehab from my knee is 100%. Now it’s building back strength from my hamstring. That took the biggest hit since it’s the hardest to train. Building back my speed.
Barry Shuck is at the Reese’s Senior Bowl this week gathering interviews and providing coverage for Browns fans