[#FilmWithFive] Prospect Preview: TE David Njoku

We’re passed the first few waves of free agency and my pals on #RaidersTwitter are less than thrilled.

Early reports linked Martellus Bennett to Oakland, before the Super Bowl champion tight end eventually found his way to Green Bay.

While I would’ve liked to have added Bennett at the right price, I was rather insistent on the timeline: if there’s ever been a year to draft a tight, it’s the 2017 draft.

In a historically deep and talented group, there’s a player (or players) of note in nearly every round. We don’t type these words every offseason, you guys. Four tight ends posted SPARQ scores above the 90th percentile. That’s really good. More on this in a bit.

Before I press forward and explain why Njoku’s in play at 24 as eloquently as I possibly can, allow me to attempt and clear the air.

The idea of a tight end in the first round was met with plenty of disdain. Not really a surprise, as many of my pals on Twitter have been locked into defense, and defense only, with the 24th overall selection. I get it. There’s holes nearly everywhere on that side of the ball. Smart money’s on Oakland Raiders’ General Manager Reggie McKenzie selecting a defender early.

But that’s not to say that elite offensive players (I’m looking at you, Christian) shouldn’t be considered.

Drafting (reaching) based on need instead of talent is not smart. Doesn’t matter the year. While I’m absolutely on board with a defender at 24, and there’s a very good chance there’ll be an attractive name or two available, completely cutting the board in half is not something any decent general manager would do, I imagine.

Mr. Gigz is right. This tight end class is loaded.

Much like the defensive back group, despite being bountiful, there are clear tiers of talent. Njoku, for my money, sits very close to the top – if not at the top. I’m a big fan of Evan Engram personally, and I’m sure O.J. Howard will go top fifteen or so as one of the more complete and “clean” prospects in this class, Njoku’s ceiling is still the highest.

We’ll touch on this again later, but long story short: I’m not drafting a player like David Njoku as “high” as 24 overall because he’s a good blocker.

Rather, I’m taking him simply because he has the ability to completely tilt the game in overwhelming favor of the offense. He’s a big play waiting to happen (you know I can’t help myself, I love my cliches), and a match-up nightmare. Adding him to a group that already has Carr, Cooper, and Crabtree, on paper, appears beneficial.


David Njoku, as I began to allude to above, is a weapon. He’s a game changer. You want those types of players on your roster. Njoku routinely makes these plays look effortless because of the type of athlete he is. While I had my money on a 40 landing in the 4.5 range, we’ll take a 4.64 with a 37″ vertical and a 133″ broad — good for 93rd percentile:

You don’t even need those numbers to confirm those playmaking suspicions, however.

Showing off the ability after the catch here, but this is a big play of course. When you’ve got a player built like Njoku causally somersaulting into the end zone (I think that’s what that move was),v that effort will get an entire sideline fired up (I’m good for one coach speak-y line an article, as well).

Good work on the play-fake here, but I’m thinking this would normally be a play that’s quite often dead in the flat. Not with Chief David toting the rock.

Here’s what you all came for: the shot play.

Working out of the slot, we see the obvious mismatch, and the board tipping in favor of 86. Nothing too fancy on this one, just the superior athlete running past coverage. Shaky hands at first, but he’s able to reel it in and take care of the rest. I’m looking to surround Derek with this type of talent. This type of talent puts games out of reach early and often.

Just to recap: David Njoku had 2 catches (two) for 134 yards and 2 scores vs. Duke last season. That’s efficient work. Here are 76 of those yards:

Slot Savior; the YAC Yahweh

Ignore that lead-in, but trust me when I tell you that this is where Njoku’s going to completely devour dudes at the next level.

He’s just too big and fast, evident at the college level, with size that’ll obviously translate to some Sunday splash-plays as well.

I mean, take this first example. Defenders just bouncing off of him as he rumbles forward for a few additional yards.

This play cuts short, but I’ll give you one guess what happens at the end:

I touched on it while chopping up Evan Engram, but throwing a player like Njoku (or Engram) in the slot is just way too enticing for me. Bring me all the mismatches, always.

Looking for it all here. Njoku has the defensive back by a step or two, but the pass sails (yuck).

It’s easy to fall in love with Njoku’s build, his physicality, or just how plain athletic he is. It’s a shame that this often leads to overlooking just how efficient he is as a route runner. It’s these subtle ways he wins that vault him into first round discussion.

Check the route here. Little stop and go, freezes two DB’s in the process. Easy six if the pass was there.

Here he is layering it all together. The YAC, working out of the slot, showing off the speed and physicality. Falling in love all over again.

As Kyle notes, his game vs. North Carolina State paints perhaps the best picture. This is David Njoku’s showcase; nearly his entire tool bag on display. Route savvy, smart off the line of scrimmage (avoiding contact), and of course, yards after the catch:

Red Area

Oakland was efficient for the most part when it came to working out of the red zone, but I can’t imagine many are opposed to adding another target in order to tick that up. More points, more wins, more life.

This is too easy:


We can get nitpick-y and circle some areas of improvement. That’s fair, as Njoku’s not perfect. With that said, it’s definitely a case where the good far outweighs the bad; when we’re talking good, it centers around elite athletic traits and ability after the catch.

Blocking — While he’s physical, you’re asking for problems if you’re relying on him too often in that regard:

Again, he’ll mix it up and get in your face, but needs to work on putting it all together (and more consistently):

Hands (concentration) — Really crisp off the jab-step here, but gets a little too far ahead of himself:

It’s not something we see too often, but it’s something to monitor I suppose. A segue to the next caveat actually…

Raw (still learning) — National high jump champion in high school who, when in Miami, found himself with (only) nine starts in two seasons. The foundation’s there, with a lot to build on, but you’re not getting a finished prospect, and that’s okay.

Body — While he’s absolutely ripped, David could use another ten pounds or so, in order to fill out that frame. Would go along way in blocking too, I’m sure.

Give me the high-end athlete with the seemingly never-ending ceiling ten times out of time, and twice on Sunday’s. That’s why I’m #here for Njoku as early as 24 overall.

With the 2017 draft stacked with defensive backs and defenders in general, I’m good using an early selection an offensive difference-maker. After all, the goal is always to draft good players, regardless of position.

Catch me on Twitter: @StillRyanFive


1 thought on “[#FilmWithFive] Prospect Preview: TE David Njoku

  1. Middle linebacker and DT are the two most important needs for the Raiders. Fill those positions well, you’ll put more pressure on the opposing QB and the defensive backfield will be fine as is.

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