2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Miami TE David Njoku


We’re back again breaking down prospects for the 2017 NFL Draft, set to kick off on April 27th through the 29th. Our goal this season is to write reports on at least 150 players and hopefully, as many as 200. It will, of course, have a focus on Pittsburgh Steelers’ wants and needs but we will look big-picture too at the best players in this year’s draft.

If there’s a player you would like us to breakdown, let us know in the comments below.

#86 David Njoku/TE/Miami – 6’4 245

The Good:

– Willing and generally a reliable blocker both in-line and out in space and routinely uses effective hand placement and hip turning
– Very athletic player with good balance and can get up-field in a hurry
– Uses body well to shield off defenders as a pass catcher and withstand hits in the middle of the field
– Creates separation against second level defenders with regularity
– Nice leaping ability and combative catch capabilities
– Consistent motor and always competes
– Lined up in slot quite a bit in addition to in-line


The Bad:

– Will slip off blocks at times and especially when down-blocking inside
– Not a refined route runner and rounds off at top at times with some wasted movement
– Catching technique needs work and doesn’t always pluck the football out of the air or high-point when he should
– Needs to cut down double-catching and watch football into hands before turning up field better
– Could stand to add some core strength and especially in legs, and fill out frame a little
– Two-year starter
– Roughly a 55% catch rate on total targets

Bio:

– 26 career games, 9 career starts
– 2016: 43 receptions, 698 yards, 8 touchdowns
– Career: 64 receptions, 1060 yards, 9 touchdowns
– Worked some at linebacker as a freshman
– Won national championship in high school boys high jump at 2014 New Balance Nationals Outdoor, clearing 6 feet, 11 inches

Tape Breakdown:

Njoku’s athleticism can be seen in every game that I watched as well as his ability to occasionally make some great catches. A great example of this is below on his touchdown against Notre Dame. Njoku runs a pivot route and despite getting held, was able to get his body turned around and in control on his way to making a nice combative catch.

Njoku’s savviness for details at times along with his athleticism can both be seen on this play below against Pittsburgh. First, he does a great job of setting up the screen by giving up the inside and then chasing before releasing out into the flat. After catching the football and securing it away from the inside of the field, Njoku’s athleticism takes over on his way into the end zone.

Njoku is accomplished when it comes to working the seam of the field vertically. In the play below against Pittsburgh, Njoku stresses the outside cornerback against what looks to cover-3 by stemming his route outside a tad before breaking to the post. While you’d probably not like to see him leap unnecessarily for the football, he quickly secures it nonetheless before taking multiple immediate hits. He still manages to get some extra YAC despite those hits.

While Njoku is not an overpowering run blocker at this stage of his career, he does have some tools to work with as you can see in the run play below against Pittsburgh. He uses his hands and hips well to turn his man away from the middle of the field. There are times, however, when he does come off the line too upright but with his knee flexibility should be able to be coached out of that bad habit

As previously mentioned, David Njoku will occasional get beat inside and below is an example of that.

Overall, there’s not a lot not to like about Njoku as a tight end prospect. While still raw in several areas of his game, he has all the tools needed to become a great hybrid tight end in the NFL. He can already function in-line with a level of dependability and that area of his game should improve at the next level with coaching and work in the weight room.

Njoku played defense while in high school and his grittiness shows on tape as a tight end. I’ve watched a few of his interviews from this past season and he comes off as an intelligent young man willing to do anything to help his team win.

Njoku is one of the several players in this year’s draft class that will be spotlighted during the upcoming NFL combine. He should run the 40 in around 4.55 seconds and maybe even faster. He should also do very well in the short shuttle and 3-cone drills.

Even though I’ve only started to scratch the surface on the tight ends in this year’s draft class, what I’ve watched of Njoku makes me believe he’s one of, if not the top one.

Should Njoku somehow manage to drop to the Steelers with the 30rth overall selection in the first round, he’d be incredibly hard to pass up.

Projection: Day one

Games Watched: at Notre Dame, vs Pittsburgh, vs West Virginia (Russell Athletic Bowl)

http://www.hurricanesports.com/ViewArticle.dbml?ATCLID=209541661

Previous 2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles
Deshaun WatsonHaason ReddickMarshon LattimoreCorey ClementTim Williams
Jourdan LewisTakkarist McKinleyBrad KaayaNathan PetermanO.J. Howard
Charles HarrisAlvin KamaraTyus Bowser

  • Gerald Brown

    Beast!

  • T3xassteelers

    Wouldn’t be mad if he was our pick at 30!

  • Spencer Krick

    As much as we need an edge, I wouldn’t even be mad if we took Njoku.

  • Steelers12

    Would have to pick him to high

  • CP72

    Njoku in this offense with Martavis Bryant potentially coming back…..think about that.

  • Kenneth Wilt

    I have just been peeking at Daniel Jeremiah’s top 50. Despite our draft position, I would love to be able to get 2 guys off this list with my preference being a OLB and a TE, although we might wait till round 3 to get a TE.

  • PaeperCup

    I’ve seen several people have him going before OJ Howard….30 wouldn’t be a bad spot for him. But I want to see the other guys too. Lots of good TEs will be available in later rounds

  • Douglas Andrews

    OLB and or CB needs to be addressed in FA. Not necessarily with a high priced free agent but a second tier FA. Hopefully an upgrade over Cockrell at CB or Moat/Chickillo at OLB that can rush the passer. Now back to Njoku I don’t see how you can’t pluck this guy up if he’s available at #30. Green’s availability is uncertain and I like James but Njoku seems like a complete TE in the making.

  • LucasY59

    I like his potential and think he would be an exciting addition to the offense, but I dont like that it would cost the 1st rd pick because he is raw, and I think it is way more luxury than need to get another offensive player, when they should have more than enough weapons,

    (I think a few ?s will be answered by the time the Draft happens, like Bryants return, Greens health, and maybe even AB’s extension, and that will help determine if picking a TE this early would be a good idea)

  • LucasY59

    I also think that I would prefer Howard to Njoku due to his experience as well as his ability to be a good blocker as well as a pass catching threat (but because of that he will probably already be gone by the time the Steelers pick)

  • Paddy

    So many players and not enough picks

  • Jon Crissinger

    I said this before, and I think I’ll repeat it here. OJ Howard is more NFL ready, but I think Njoku is a better prospect. He’s somewhere between Vernon Davis and Eric Ebron when it comes to athleticism at the TE position. He’s likely to break 40″ in the vert, 10′ in the broad and he’s ran a sub 4.5 40yd dash before.

  • Jon Crissinger

    I think Njoku will be a better blocker. He plays with more functional strength, just needs technique coaching. This draft is very deep at solid TEs though.

  • Steve

    Njoku Would be a nice pickup for the Steelers. Has good hands, athletic and has good size.

  • TrappenWeisseGuy ;

    The double catches and total completion percentage are potential red flags for me. They can’t afford any more guys with questionable hands than they already have. If Hamilton and Coates catch some of those balls they dropped last game, it could’ve changed the entire tone of that game. I think that’s what pissed Ben off the most.

  • Rotten Sircus

    Not since 2005 draft have we taken a TE. That TE was Heeeeeaaath. Njoku has the measurables but I want us to go OLB or DE first round !!!

  • Add some muscle to him and somebody’s going to have a hell of a football player. I don’t know about 30th overall though. I feel like better value could be had, but I don’t know that for sure. I’m also one of the ones who wants to focus on building a championship caliber defense more than anything else, so there’s that.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    ehh. im more impressed by shaheen.

  • Andrew

    TE is deep enough to get later. We have more pressing needs in this draft and we can get a good player in that later rounds

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    1) Njoku will almost assuredly be gone by 1.30. (Eric Ebron was gone at 1.10)

    2) If he is somehow still there at 1.30, he will vey likely be the BPA (if we’re being honest and accurate).

    3) It’s very hard to justify spending a 1st round pick on a pass catching TE who will probably only touch the ball 4 or 5 times a game.

    Therein lies the problem. Between Antonio Brown, LeVeon Bell, Martavis Bryant, Eli Rodgers, that’s a lot of mouths to feed. (And they should all be here for a while.) How many throws would actually be going Njoku’s way? Five? Six?

    On the other hand, if we drafted a CB, he could potentially play 90% of the snaps (not necessarily from day one, but fairly soon) (like Burns). That is good ROI.

    My point is, I would LOVE to have Njoku on the Steelers roster. I would have no problem drafting him at 1.30. But I have a hard time justifying his production value on a team with two pro bowl weapons on offense (who demand the rock frequently). Especially when we still have two critical needs on defense, and can’t stop the Patriots.

    I would much rather draft a guy like Everett or Butt or Shaheen at 3.30. We can still get similar red zone production from either of those guys, but they don’t require as much investment.

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  • popsiclesticks

    I don’t agree with the people who don’t think OJ Howard is easily the best TE prospect in this class, but that being said, I have no problem going TE at 30 if you don’t love whatever Edge guy is available and they are high on Njoku. Plus his jersey will be great to buy.