While player evaluation centers around the game tape, the NFL Combine certainly has a major affect on where players will be drafted, and how teams feel about them. Ideally, a player will excel in both arenas, or at least confirm what we have seen on his tape through his weigh-ins, measurements, and drill testing.
Miami Hurricane's tight end David Njoku did just that. At 6'4 245 pounds, Njoku ran a 4.62 40 yard dash and a jumped 133″ in the broad jump. His vertical jump was also impressive, coming in a whole 9 inches higher than top running back prospect Leonard Fournette.
The more I watch of Njoku, the more I am convinced that he would be the perfect successor to Jason Witten. Where Witten brought his reliability and consistency, Njoku can bring a vertical pass threat which Dallas really hasn't had before in a tight end.
In my scouting report of David Njoku over at Slant Sports, I noted how his athleticism, frame, and hand strength make him a dynamic threat in the red zone. Pairing Njoku with the already-dangerous Dez Bryant when inside the 20 yard line would simply be unfair for opposing defenses.
Considering his size and pass catching ability, Njoku is an absolute problem in the red zone. Njoku shows the ability to both box out and go over smaller cornerbacks, muscling the ball away for touchdowns.
Njoku is also dangerous after the catch. Difficult to bring down in open space, Njoku runs both through and over smaller defensive backs who get in his way. On multiple occasions I saw Miami get Njoku the ball quickly in the screen game, and just let him do the rest.
Njoku is a tough match-up for the defense to account for. A player who will prove too fast for linebackers and too big/powerful for defensive backs, Njoku will make a living as a receiving tight end at the next level.
One area where Njoku has received some criticism is for his run blocking. While he is not the traditional in-line blocker that prime-Jason Witten was, Njoku gives strong effort on his blocks and is “good enough” most times.
No, I wouldn't expect him to block a defensive end on inside zone all by himself too often, but he did show the ability to dominate defensive backs in space. Njoku also did a nice job working off double teams with the offensive tackles, and getting to the second level to seal off linebackers. If drafted by Dallas, he will be asked to work in those deuce blocks at times on inside/outside zone runs.
David Njoku is my second highest rated tight end in the 2017 NFL Draft. While he is a much rawer player than Alabama's OJ Howard, he possesses the tools to one day surpass him as the superior player in a few years.
Once coached up on his route running and blocking, I believe Njoku can be a perennial Pro Bowler at the next level. Njoku fits the bill for the modern day tight end, and will be a match-up nightmare for defenses when lining up in the slot.
If available at the 28th overall pick, I would have no issues with the Cowboys pulling the trigger, and drafting David Njoku.