I’ve read a lot of comparisons for Njoku, many of whom are fellow Miami Hurricane alumni, primarily Greg Olsen and Jimmy Graham. Firstly, if you’re a high school tight end and you want to almost assure yourself of getting drafted in the first three rounds out of college, go to Miami. There must be something in the warm Miami water because the Hurricane’s breed tight ends.
On some levels I understand the above comparisons but when I think of David Njoku and what an NFL team will be getting when he’s undoubtedly drafted in the first round this draft, I think of Jordan Reed.
Like Reed, Njoku is a pass catching tight end. He is a savvy route runner and is very effective working against linebackers in coverage. He does a good job at using his size and hands to gain separation on his routes and boxing out at the catch point. His biggest calling card his is power. Njoku has phenomenal balance and body control and this allows him to break tackles and continue rumbling downfield. I mean, just watch this and tell me that’s not impressive balance and control.
Now Njoku is not the best run blocker. Per PFF, he graded 36th among the 77 draft-eligible tight ends this season after finished 26th in 2015. He struggles blocking explosive outside rushers and that could certainly poise an issue in the NFL as the league is becoming chalk full of them. However, I don’t see this playing too much into his draft-ability simply because teams understand what he is and will use him more as a receiver than an in-line blocker (again, Jordan Reed). What does worry me are his drops. He finished his collegiate career with a catch percentage of 60.4%. For comparison, O.J. Howard’s was 75.8%. Njoku has a tendency to not watch the ball all the way into his hands and that often leads to drops even when he’s wide open.
What Njoku lacks in run blocking, he more than makes up for it in his ability to be a threat as a receiver. He can line up on the outside or in the slot and can have success against linebackers and safeties. While I think Howard could reach even TE1 status depending on where he’s drafted this season, I think Njoku will be a solid TE2 his rookie year.
Njoku’s College Stats
Best Fantasy Fits
- Detroit Lions: The Lions are currently writing Shakespeare with Eric Ebron: To pick up his fifth-year option or not to pick up his fifth-year option. Ebron has definitely not lived up to the hype in both real and fantasy football. If the Lions do decided Ebron is not in their future (spoiler alert: they should), Njoku would be a perfect player to transition with. While once a fantasy haven, the Lions’ offense has taken a step back in fantasy dominance but re-tooling the team might bring it back to fantasy relevance. Matthew Stafford does and will always chuck the ball around and a receiving weapon like Njoku will receive plenty of targets.
- New York Giants: While the Giants are all set when it comes to diva receivers, they really don’t have a tight end of worth to speak off (sorry Larry Donnell and Will Tye). Njoku would give the Giants a legit threat at the tight end position and he’d thrive in their three receiver sets. The Giants seem adverse to ever running the football so Njoku won’t even have to worry about blocking so that just seems like a match made in heaven. I understand there will be limited targets in New York—what with the eternal struggle between Odell Beckham and Brandon Marshall both trying to get theirs with Sterling Shepard reflects on happier times—but Njoku certainly would not receive a lot of defense’s attention which is exactly how he’ll thrive.
- Pittsburgh Steelers: When I wrote my Howard piece, someone on Twitter pointed out that Pittsburgh would be the best landing spot for Howard. And he’s right. But we both agreed there’s no way Howard would fall that far. So, here’s my compromise: I present to you the second best tight end threat who actually has a better chance of making it into the late 20’s and could still do equal damage in the Steelers offense. The Steelers’ offense has been missing a true TE threat since Heath Miller and they tried to find the fix in Ladarius Green. That didn’t work. Now Ben Roethlisberger has yet another weapon to add to his war chest. Njoku falling to the Steelers would be a dream for fantasy owners and a nightmare for defenses everywhere.