Many schools claim to be a school that has produced great talent at a certain position. For the Miami Hurricanes, many view the Orange & Green as “Tight End U”. With products such as Jeremy Shockey, Greg Olsen, Kellen Winslow II, and Jimmy Graham, Miami can stake that claim loud and proud. It seems that the Canes have another athletic product to come out of Coral Gables. In this upcoming draft, David Njoku will look to land with a team and carry on the tradition of those before him.
The tight end position in the draft is one of the best. A deep class that has value in the later rounds. At the top of that class sits the 6’4 tight end who was recruited as a three-star athlete in the 2014 recruiting class. Today, we stick Njoku under the microscope and examine his game.
Weight: 240 lbs
Position: Tight end
Games Watched: 2016 vs. Pittsburgh, 2016 vs. Virginia, 2016 vs. Pittsburgh
- Tied for sixth in the ACC in 2016 in receiving touchdowns with eight; 2016 stats: 43 catches, 698 yards, eight TDs
- Led Miami in yards per catch in 2015 (17.2), second in 2016 (16.2)
- Per cfbstats.com, in 2016, 25 of his catches went for a first down, 15 went for 15 yards or more, seven went for 25 yards or more
- Plenty of athleticism; physical specimen
- Solid producer of YAC (yards after the catch)
- Able to line up in the slot, the boundary, and as an in-line tight end
- Displays toughness after the catch; difficult to bring down after first contact; able to break arm tackles
- Constant mismatch
- Legitimate red-zone threat
- Able to create separation in his route running
- Able to high-point the ball in jump ball situations
- Showed ability to turn short passes into long yardage plays
- Natural hands catcher, solid catch radius
- Technique is still raw, needs more coaching
- Route running needs improving
- Blocking aspect is average at best; struggles to stay in front of blocks
- Footwork needs sharpening
- Needs to improve overall strength
Conclusion: When it comes to crowning the best tight end of the 2017 class, Alabama’s O.J. Howard gets the most votes. In my opinion, Njoku is the best and I believe he has the higher ceiling of any tight end in this class. With his elite athleticism, Njoku should be on full display at the Combine and will dazzle scouts, coaches, and GMs in pre-draft workouts. The mix of size, speed, athleticism will make an impact on just about any offense he plays in. Njoku only has two seasons of college football play under his belt and every now and then, it shows on film.
In spite of that, he still has enough talent now to be a top 25 prospect overall in this class. Seasoned coaching, hard work in a solid strength and conditioning program, and an offense that heavily utilizes his skills will make Njoku a future Pro Bowler on many occasions. Expect to hear Njoku’s name called in the area of mid-to-late first round. There is another talented Miami tight end headed to the NFL. This one has great potential just like the ones before him.