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PFF scouting report: David Njoku, TE, Miami (FL)

ORLANDO, FL - DECEMBER 28: David Njoku #86 of the Miami Hurricanes in action during the Russell Athletic Bowl against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Camping World Stadium on December 28, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. Miami defeated West Virginia 31-14. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Name: David Njoku

School: Miami (FL)

Position fit: Tight end

Stats to know: Averaged 11.2 yards after the catch per reception in 2016, the most by all draft-eligible tight ends by over a yard.

What he does well

  • Tracks ball well downfield.
  • Good top-end speed.
  • Strong balance and body control, likely his biggest strength.
  • Good at using his hands and size to create late separation at the catch point.
  • Strong hands, tough for DBs to break up passes after he has the ball in his grasp.
  • Tough to press him with smaller defenders.
  • Effective option-route runner, uses linebackers leverage against them to create space in zones.
  • Consistently seals 7-tech to the inside on front side of gap-scheme runs.
  • Locates well when moving to the 2L in run game.

Biggest concern

  • Had seven drops on 71 catchable targets over the past two seasons, majority coming when open, has a tendency to not see the ball all the way in.
  • Slow acceleration, doesn’t explode off the line.
  • Not overly elusive, forced many missed tackles in college based off size and balance.
  • Struggles when tasked with sealing 8/9-tech’s to the outside on front side of gap-scheme runs; often gets beat to the inside forcing RB to bounce the run to the outside.
  • Can get too tall when moving laterally blocking inline, allows defenders to get under his pads and control the movement.

NFL comparison: Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins

Like Reed, Njoku figures to have more NFL success as a receiving option than he does as a run-blocker, while showing competence as a run-blocker when the alignment is in his favor. Neither player is overly elusive but both are effective with the ball in their hands due to a combination of size, top-end speed and a willingness to punch the defense in the mouth, don’t be surprised if there’s a highlight of Njoku hurdling over a defender next season.

Bottom line: Njoku has legitimate concerns as a run-blocker. He ranked 36th among 77 qualified, draft-eligible tight ends this season in terms of run-block grading after finishing 26th among the group in 2015; he could really struggle against NFL edge defenders with an explosive first step. With that being said, he’s also a legitimate Day 1 starter as a receiving option. He works well both off the line and in the slot, effectively finds the seams down the middle of the field and his footwork on out-routes will repeatedly find him separating from linebackers tasked with covering him; at the very least he should provide a nice safety blanket underneath for his QB.

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