Raiders NFL Draft: A Tight End Option In Every Round

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The 2017 NFL Draft is now single-digit days away. The Oakland Raiders might not be in the market for a tight end, but if they opt to take one, here is a potential option for every round.

The 2017 NFL Draft will commence on April 27 at 5:00pm PST, and end sometime in the early evening on Saturday. The Oakland Raiders will go on the clock 24th overall, barring any trades, and have a total of eight picks to work with during the weekend.

With the signing of Jared Cook this offseason, they may not be in the draft market for a tight end. But if they choose to add one, here is one name to consider for every round.

For argument’s sake, we’ll use the rankings from CBS Sports. Let’s get started.

Round 1 – David Njoku, Miami

O.J. Howard is widely considered the top tight end in this draft class, which is exactly why he doesn’t get the nod here. That, and I personally have Njoku ranked just ahead of him anyway.

Howard will surely be a Top 15 pick, if not higher. And the same might be said for Njoku, but between the two, the latter is more likely to fall to the 24th pick. And if he does, given his talent, Reggie McKenzie would have to give strong consideration to making him the pick.

Standing at 6’4″ and 246 pounds, Njoku is considered undersized for the position, but he’s built like he’s carved out of stone. And he’s got an absurd 82 1/2″ inch wingspan, making him quite the red zone target.

Njoku tested as an exceptional athlete at the NFL Combine, recording a 4.64 second 40-yard dash, a 37 1/2″ vertical (90th percentile amongst all TE’s since 1999), 133″ broad jump (98th percentile) and a 6.97 second 3-cone drill. That 3-cone drill is faster than Ty Montgomery, Allen Robinson, Jordy Nelson, Stefon Diggs and Donte Moncrief, to name a few.

The former Hurricane didn’t do much in his first season on the field in 2015, but he broke out with a big year in 2016. He recorded 43 catches for 698 yards and 8 touchdowns. He did that in 13 games played, but only 5 starts.

Njoku’s athleticism gives him outstanding burst in and out of his breaks, allowing him to create consistent separation from his matchup. When he catches the ball with a full head of steam, he’s incredibly tough to bring down. He certainly has what it takes to be a big-time pass catcher at the next level, particularly up the seam and in the red zone.

However, drops were an issue for him, which might be a deal breaker for Raider Nation. He is credited for eight drops in his two seasons at Miami. Also, given his relative inexperience, he needs to work on his route-running and the general nuances of the position.

With some refinement and a little more consistency with his hands, Njoku can develop into one of the best tight ends in the league.