On July 10th, despite entering his third year in the league, David Njoku turns just 23 years old. The Cleveland Browns tight end is one of the most divisive players on the team for a few reasons.
When he was drafted, there was an understanding that it would take Njoku some time to develop and figure things out in addition to how demanding the transition from college to the NFL is for tight ends.
He dropped passes, which immediately had a segment of fans turn on him, some of which still haven't gotten over it. And even those who have sort of understood there would be growing pains are often surprised to learn that Njoku was 8th among tight ends in receiving yards last year with 639.
It didn't feel like Njoku was a top 10 tight end. He was far better in the second half of 2018. It really feels like he found his stride, particularly the last month of the season, and the hope is that carries over into 2019, both as a receiving threat and in terms of improving his blocking, putting together a good year from start to finish.
This speaks to just how incredibly talented Njoku is that people either aren't buying into him yet or think he's got that much room to grow as a player. That's the difference between players like Gary Barnidge or Jordan Cameron who enjoyed some short term success and a player like Njoku. Nothing against those players that put up some memorable moments, but Njoku has the potential to be a true franchise tight end and could be in for a breakout year in 2019.
Njoku is the team's best high point threat and he's found nice chemistry with Baker Mayfield in that area. Now, it's about making more out of opportunities in the middle of the field and yards after catch like he did to close out the second Cincinnati Bengals game.
His development should make a big difference in a vacuum, but then add in the impact of Odell Beckham and it should make his life much easier this coming year. Njoku should have every opportunity to control the middle of the field and as a result, he could put up some eye-popping numbers this year.
Happy Birthday to the Chief!