(Editor’s Note: With less than one month until the start of the 2017 NFL Draft on April 27, the staff of DallasCowboys.com intends to preview the landscape of possible Cowboys draft picks – from the first round to the last. Today’s featured player is Miami’s David Njoku.)
Name: David Njoku
Position: Tight End
College: Miami (Fla.)
Honors: In 2016 – his second and final season at Miami – Njoku made All-ACC honorable mention with 43 catches for 698 yards and 8 touchdowns.
Key Stat: Njoku’s listed as a tight end, but he’s hardly a possession receiver. As a redshirt freshman in 2015 he led the Hurricanes in yards per catch (17.2) and finished second on the team in 2016 (16.2). In his final regular-season game last November against Duke, he had a career-high 76-yard touchdown catch and 58-yard touchdown catch.
Where He’s Projected: Among most draft observers, Njoku is in the conversation with Alabama’s O.J. Howard as this year’s top tight end prospect. The 20-year-old could very well get drafted by a team in the first round.
How He Helps The Cowboys: Jason Witten just signed a four-year extension through 2021, and although it remains to be seen whether the soon-to-be 35-year-old will play another four seasons, the Cowboys don’t exactly seem desperate to spend a high draft choice on a tight end of the future. They do have depth at the position, too, though James Hanna missed the entire 2016 season with a knee injury and Geoff Swaim needed foot surgery this offseason that could sideline him until training camp. A player to watch is last year’s seventh-round pick Rico Gathers. The team was pleased with his progress on the practice squad last season, but again, he hadn’t played organized football since eighth grade – there’s still a large adjustment he must make.
Scout’s Take: Plays with physical toughness. Shows initial quickness and speed. Can get up the field in a hurry. Vertical and lateral separation. Hard guy to cover on the move. Plays with a burst. Shows surprising strength with his ability to secure his block. Staff not afraid to run the ball behind him as an in-line blocker. Holds the point with position more so than power. Has a bad habit that he likes to peek to see where the ball is when he blocks. Will need to stop that at the next level. Good hand use and balance. Plays on his feet. Rarely do you see him on the ground. Very good body control. Reactionary athlete. Plays with bend. Not stiff moving at all. Good at processing information and reading coverages. Knows how to get open by finding space. Very aware player in the red zone. Playmaker when the ball goes in his direction. Big-play ability when the ball goes in his direction. Weapon as a red zone player. Only 20 years old – has a chance to develop physically into an outstanding player. Second-best tight end in the draft behind O.J. Howard of Alabama.
- Bryan Broaddus