Among the many needs for the Denver Broncos to address in the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft is tight end position. Denver’s tight ends did little to contribute to the offense last season, leading the Broncos to trade for A.J. Derby, who also made little impact.
With few options available as free agents, the Broncos could add a solid offensive weapon to help the development of their two young quarterbacks.
Sitting with the No. 20 pick in the first round, the Broncos can hope that former Alabama tight end O.J. Howard is available, but if he’s taken before the Broncos are on the clock, Miami tight end David Njoku could be another viable option as the Broncos look for playmakers on offense.
After all, Njoku proclaims himself to be “the best tight end in the draft.”
Njoku was a dynamic weapon for the Hurricanes in 2016, logging 698 yards on 43 receptions and 8 touchdowns. In his final regular season game as a Hurricane, Njoku exploded for 134 yards and two touchdowns.
Though most scouts see Alabama’s O.J. Howard as the consensus No. 1 tight end in the draft, Njoku isn’t far behind.
Possessing tremendous athletic ability, long arms and tremendous leaping ability, Njoku is seen possesses the desired skill set for teams to lean heavily on in the passing game and in the red zone. Njoku, despite his large size at six-foot-four, still ran a 4.6 40 yard dash and posted a 37-inch vertical jump.
Njoku’s athleticism alone has him in conversations to be a mid-late first-round pick and luckily for the Broncos, they possess the 20th pick.
The biggest flaw in Njoku’s game has been his poor blocking, in both the passing game and the run game. To succeed as a TE in the NFL, Njoku will need to fine tune his technique to not get beaten to the inside of a running play.
The inability to block can lead to teams using him less on running downs and more on third downs or situations where a team has long distance to pick up a first down.
Njoku will also need time to develop his route running, as NFL defensive backs will be less prone to getting beaten deep. Being at the right place at the right time is crucial for tight ends as many quarterbacks depend on tight ends as security blankets if a play breaks down.
Having tremendous athletic ability and great speed won’t matter if a tight end doesn’t end up catching the ball. Njoku needs to limit his drops (eight) if he is going to make a true difference for a team.
On the Broncos’ roster, Virgil Green is currently slated to be the starting TE heading into next season. Pairing Njoku with a veteran TE like Green could be beneficial, as Njoku fine tunes on his technique.
Not needing to trade up for a Christian McCaffrey or an O.J. Howard would serve the Broncos well and keep them in a better position to bring in more overall talent in the draft by not needing to surrender draft selections in a trade.
Not many players can say they possess the raw athletic ability that Njoku has and the Broncos could benefit greatly from selecting him to be their next great TE.