With the NFL Scouting Combine in full swing, we are starting to see a few measurables of the top players aiming to become first-round picks. As of right now, before everything is consumed, the battle for top tight end is between Alabama’s O.J. Howard and Miami’s David Njoku. The question is which one will be taken first.
Obviously there are about 9,000 mock drafts floating around the ether known as cyberspace right now, and the vast majority of these drafts have both Howard and Njoku being taken in the first round. There have been some projections that have Njoku slipping all the way down to the 32nd pick, which is held by none other than Super Bowl Champions, the New England Patriots. If Njoku were to fall to #32, it would just be unfair.
This could happen, but a few variables need to be in place. The first one has to do with whether the Patriots are going to re-sign TE Martellus Bennett or just let him ride the open market. If this happens, and Njoku is left when the Patriots draft, there is no question they will take Njoku.
We do expect for Rob Gronkowski to be back in “full” health next season. However that isn’t guaranteed. He has suffered through a slew of injuries the last several years, so questions regarding his durability will be natural. If Bennett walks, and Njoku is still there, this would be the obvious move. Njoku is an athletic freak, whose upside is through the roof. Imagine being a rookie and getting to have Tom Brady as your QB. In addition to being teammates with Gronkowski, who when healthy is the most dominant player at the position, it would be a perfect storm for everyone involved, and will have the entire pro football fan base not in New England, rolling their eyes seeing the rich get richer.
It isn’t likely Njoku slips this far, but it’s possible. In addition to his sick combine numbers, being a TE from the U will also play a role. Njoku will fall behind the likes of Bubba Franks, Jeremey Shockey, Greg Olsen, and Jimmy Graham (plus several others not listed who have had solid NFL careers). Some experts say it’s possible that Njoku could be the best out of all of them — at least he has the potential to be. That’s scary in and of itself, but if he gets swooped up by the Patriots it’s going to be even scarier. And really, not fair at all.