TE David Njoku, the youngest member of the Browns; youth-laden roster, will turn 21-years-old. But make no doubt the Browns rookie tight end and 29th overall NFL Draft pick looks and plays like a grown man, a dynamic that was plenty clear throughout OTAs and minicamp.
Njoku, the former Miami standout and national boys high jump champion, used a rare combination of size (6-foot-4, 246), speed, and instincts to emerge as one of the top players in this year’s Draft class.
Now, he’s poised to earn a key role on a new-look Cleveland offense that parted ways with veteran tight end Gary Barnidge in April.
The story said Njoku caught everything throw his way this spring, but did take reps with the second and third teams. Everyone seems excited about his potential and with Barnidge no longer with the team, and Njoku a first round pick, there's a good chance he'll eventually have the TE1 spot at some point sooner or later this season.
I've read and heard it suggested that the TE situation is dire enough that the Ravens should sign a proven veteran tight end such as Gary Barnidge, formerly of the Cleveland Browns, to ensure they have someone who can handle the job.
But I think it's too soon to suggest the Ravens absolutely have to make a move. It's possible this could end up being a summertime worry that fades.
Keep an eye on Ben Watson. He's one year removed from a 74-catch season, and he's a pro's pro, adept at both blocking and catching. It was apparent at the team's mandatory minicamp last month that he is in terrific shape. He was on the field for some drills.
The Ravens looked very good at the position with six TEs not that long ago, but now there are major questions. Dennis Pitta's hip injury likely means his football career is over. Darren Waller is suspended for a year. That leaves Watson, Nick Boyle, Crockett Gillmore and Maxx Williams. It seems the team is really counting on the return of Watson to lead the way this season with Boyle also possibly getting a good look.
Barnidge apparently became expendable after the Browns drafted TE David Njoku. Rookie tight ends rarely make a fantasy impact, but the Browns appear to be planning to play Njoku extensively if they were willing to part ways with Barnidge. Barnidge is entering his age 32 season, but shouldn't have a problem finding a new team.