Remember when Pittsburgh Steelers fans were hoping that Miami tight end David Njoku would be available for them when their pick came up in the first round—and then the Cleveland Browns stepped in and drafted him? Pittsburgh went on to draft T.J. Watt, and that decision has proven to be pretty decent, so no harm, no foul. And hopefully Eric Ebron proves to be what they expected out of Njoku.
Meanwhile, the real Njoku is still trying to live up to his expectations—not just the ones that others have set up for him, but the ones that he has for himself. In 2018, he caught 56 passes for 639 yards and four touchdowns, which is pretty much the production Vance McDonald had in 2018 that he was celebrated for.
Last year, however, Njoku was injured and missed the vast majority of the season. He played in only four games, starting one, totaling 99 snaps. He caught just five passes for 41 yards and one touchdown as a result of these issues. He went down just 10 snaps into the second game of the season. He attempted to return in Week 14, and then in the finale as well, where he managed a combined 24 snaps, with a single four-yard catch.
Njoku took a hit in that Week Two game that sent him upward in the air, landing on his head and suffering a concussion. It was later revealed that he also broke his wrist. He spent most of the year on injured reserve and was not activated until December.
He recently told the team’s website, “my number one goal is to stay healthy. If I can stay healthy, the sky is the limit. It’s going to be special. We have all the tools here, and we have a great coach, so we’re really excited to put it all together”.
Earlier this year, the front office decided that they would pick up his fifth-year option, so he is under contract for the next two years. But they also used some of their salary cap to sign Austin Hooper in free agency.
Kevin Stefanski, their new head coach, likes to run out of heavy formations, regularly employing two tight ends at the same time, even three, and this would fit what the Browns would want to do anyway, since they have Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt in the backfield.
With tight ends like Njoku and Hooper, it should allow them to run a lot of 12 personnel and create ambiguity as to whether they’re running or passing. But as he said, he has to be on the field to make all of that happen, and last year, he didn’t get that chance.