David Njoku, TE, Miami (6-foot-4, 246-pounds)
Last year's Denver Broncos defended their Super Bowl championship by opening with a new quarterback, a patchwork offensive line, and an unimaginative offensive game plan. They finished 2016 by limping to the finish line with a 9-7 record, an o-line that did its best impersonation of swiss cheese, showing vulnerability on its almighty defense, and offensive play calling that would fit comfortably on to a business card. Denver's head coach Gary Kubiak retired, leading to a revamped coaching staff now led by former Miami coordinator Vance Joseph. A franchise that won 5 straight AFC West titles, 2 conference championships, and a Super Bowl between 2011-15 have a lot of holes to fill entering the 2017 draft.
The Broncos defense is still a top ranked unit, finishing 1st against the pass and surrendering less than 19 points per game. The run defense, however, ranked only 28th, and the defensive line suffered after the free agent defection of Malik Jackson following the Super Bowl victory. With Alabama's Jonathan Allen already off the board, it was extremely tempting to add Florida's Caleb Brantley here. Brantley would be a reach at No. 20, but would add the same D-line versatility that they missed with the departure of Jackson.
Linebacker Demarcus Ware retired following the 2016 season. Shane Ray will capably step into his shoes opposite Von Miller, but the Broncos struggled in coverage with this unit. Inside linebacker Brandon Marshall is a tackling machine, but with Vanderbilt's Zach Cunningham still available, it was tough to pass up the chance to bolster an already good linebacking corps.
Almost every mock draft I've seen has predicted an offensive lineman with this pick, but I don't think Denver goes that direction. The signings of Ron Leary and Menelik Watson solidifies the line a bit, and they'll undoubtedly pick up linemen at later rounds with better value.
The pick here is Njoku, because of what he will add to the Broncos 21st ranked passing attack from a year ago. Even with Pro Bowl receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders on the outside, Denver averaged less than 21 points per game. An athletic freak like Njoku will add a threat in the middle of the field that young Denver quarterbacks Paxton Lynch and Trevor Siemian lacked a year ago.
Still raw at the position, Njoku overcame inconsistent quarterback play to bring in 43 receptions for 698 yards and 8 scores. He is tremendously explosive out of cuts and provides a dynamic threat down the seam. Njoku excels at yards after the catch on shorter routes, and is a big play threat every time he touches the ball. He is not a great in-line blocker, but due to poor technique more than willingness.
David Njoku would bring an explosive element to the Broncos offense from the tight end position it has lacked since Julius Thomas.
Do you agree with the Broncos taking David Njoku?
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Community Mock Draft Results
- Cleveland Browns - Myles Garrett, DE, TAMU
- San Francisco 49ers - Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
- Chicago Bears - Jamal Adams, S, LSU
- Jacksonville Jaguars - O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
- Tennessee Titans - Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
- New York Jets - Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
- Los Angeles Chargers - Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford
- Carolina Panthers - Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
- Cincinnati Bengals - Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama
- Buffalo Bills - Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU
- New Orleans Saints - Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
- Cleveland Browns - Mitch Trubisky, QB, UNC
- Arizona Cardinals - Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech
- Philadelphia Eagles (via Minnesota) - Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
- Indianapolis Colts - Ryan Ramcyzk, OT, Wisconsin
- Baltimore Ravens - Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
- Washington Redskins - Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
- Tennessee Titans (via LA Rams) - John Ross, WR, Washington
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
- Denver Broncos - David Njoku, TE, Miami