On the morning of March 29 in Miami, Fla., the weather was as picture-perfect as you would want it to be for your last chance to impress NFL scouts and coaches if you were a prospect. Even though the sun was shining bright, one Canes player shined even brighter in the athletic testing and that was tight end David Njoku, a first-round NFL Draft prospect.

Njoku started off the morning with an impressive 40-inch vertical jump, which was 2.5 inches higher than the already noteworthy 37.5-inch vertical he posted at the Combine last month.

Njoku followed up his personal best vertical jump by staying about on-par with his broad jump, recording a 10-foot, 11-inch broad jump this morning, which was just one inch less than his 11-foot broad jump at the Combine.

After that, there was really only one question left to answer about Njoku, and that was if he could better his 4.64 40-yard dash time from Indianapolis.

At Pro Days, even when schools release “official” numbers, everything is hand-timed. I timed Njoku’s two 40-yard dash attempts at 4.62 and 4.56. The 4.56 was probably a little fast on my hand, but either would have been better than his Combine time. 

Njoku really did get the full Pro Day experience. He participated in all of the athletic drills, and also opted to work as a blocker before he ran routes. The two clips above were two of the reps I captured of him in the blocking drills, one pass blocking and one run blocking. How NFL teams interpret what they think they can get out of Njoku as a blocker will determine how high he goes in the draft. Today he performed well in that area.

Finally, there was the on-the-field drills. Njoku went through various tight end routes for quarterback Brad Kaaya, and other than one bad drop he had on his first rep, he look good running different routes both long and short. 

Plus, when they got to the red zone portion of the drill, on the last play of the day, they dialed up a throw that let Njoku show off what he does best.

Njoku declined to meet with the media afterwards, as did quarterback Brad Kaaya – which is something I’ll go into greater detail on in this week’s upcoming Pewter Nation Podcast. Though his testing numbers looked good, Njoku, at times, seems a bit lackadaisical when finishing reps. One scout there said that he wasn’t impressed with the effort Njoku gave.

Miami TE David Njoku – Photo by: Trevor Sikkema/PR

No one knows the exact reason why Njoku did not speak to the media afterwards, so I don’t want to accuse him of anything, but allowing that to happen, since it ultimately was his decision, doesn’t look great when you pair it with an overall view that he didn’t appear to be giving full effort on the field.

Overall, the numbers certainly did Njoku some favors. He’s a player the Buccaneers are certainly looking into at No. 19, as they had their regional scout Brian Hudspeth front and center for his drills. The effort on the field was enough for me to notice, but you could also argue that these players already have all their tape, so who cares?

There’s certainly truth to that, but if you’re going to do everything, as I’ll credit Njoku for doing, it doesn’t make sense not to impress in every way.

The question now is if he’s worth the No. 19 overall pick, and if he is, who would the Bucs take him over, if he’s there?

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About the Author: Trevor Sikkema

Trevor Sikkema is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat reporter and NFL Draft analyst for PewterReport.com. Sikkema, an alumnus of the University of Florida, has covered both college and professional football for much of his career. As a native of the Sunshine State, when he's not buried in social media, Sikkema can be found out and active, attempting to be the best athlete he never was. Sikkema can be reached at: trevor@pewterreport.com
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TallyBuc
4 years ago

Not sure if I’m “overreacting” or not but lack of effort is a red flag. ASJ had all the talent but the effort was never there. Njoku is much more talented and athletic that athleticism only gets u so far on Sundays when everyone is an athletic freak.

seat26
4 years ago

I think he is only 20. He hasn’t even stopped growing yet. He is only going to get better and faster.

toofamiliar17
4 years ago

Interesting to hear on the effort stuff, especially since his film is the opposite, as far as I can tell. He’s a sub par blocker, but his effort and willingness to stick his nose in there at every opportunity are undeniable. He’s not one of those receiving first TEs who just pantomimes the motions of trying to block. And he’s really, really hard to tackle, specifically because he combines his great athletic ability with intensity and effort that makes him undeniably tenacious with the ball in his hands. I don’t think I saw him quit on a single play on… Read more »

jshumaker
4 years ago

Of all the players that should be available when the Bucs pick, Njoku is my favorite. I like him more than Cook, McCaffery and Ross. RB’s do not have a high success rate as 1st round picks and Ross has injury concerns. Plus a TE would help the o-line a bit.

chetthevette
4 years ago

Hopefully OJHoward is still around at 19. Then it doesn’t matter about his motor.
GO BUCS

macabee
4 years ago

Let me fess up and be the first to say I have no idea who the Bucs will pick at 19. The Bucs have sent no confirming signals and there is, so far, no consensus among the experts. But I can tell you what I do know and as usual not hesitant to offer an opinion. I know this. So far the Bucs have had/or have scheduled private visits from OJ Howard/Bama and David Njoku/Miami and worked out Michael Roberts/Toledo and Adam Shaheen/Ashland. This group covers 1st round to 5th round. My opinion – somewhere in this draft the Bucs… Read more »

Naplesfan
Reply to  macabee
4 years ago

With you there, mac … BPA all the way, I don’t care who it is as long as he’s best player on their board. From the first round all the way to the seventh.

Whoever we draft in first and second rounds has to be capable of starting this season. Maybe not in week 1, but certainly by mid-season. “Projects” are best left for the later rounds, which is fine. We’ve had some great projects come along and pleasantly surprise, such as Kwon, and Pamphile. But first or second rounders need to pay off this season.

toofamiliar17
Reply to  Naplesfan
4 years ago

I think I disagree with your take on projects. Aaron Rodgers was a project. His mechanics were pretty damn bad, and he came from a very simple college offense designed to make things easy on the QB. Ezekiel Ansah was a project – an athletic freak with 4.5 career sacks in college. Mike Evans was largely viewed as a project – he basically ran two or three routes in college and was very unrefined all around, needing major work on the intricate details of his position. It’s okay to draft a project in the first round. There is risk of… Read more »

Naplesfan
Reply to  toofamiliar17
4 years ago

I wasn’t referring to quarterbacks in my comment regarding first or second round picks needing to be able to start as rookies, since obviously we have our starter at QB already, and any QB we draft will likely be a Day 3 pick, where it’s just fine to have a project backup. As a rule, quarterbacks require many years of league play – in Brady’s case, his 8th season in the league – to approach anywhere near their peak performance. Four to five years of starting is the typical “development period” for QBs. Consequently all new starting quarterbacks are by… Read more »

cgmaster27
Reply to  macabee
4 years ago

Mac, and I might be wrong, but didn’t the bucs work out Engram from Ole miss as well? I found the link on Walter footballs player tracking list. http://walterfootball.com/ProspectMeetings/ByProspect They might not have met yet and it’s just scheduled. But I’d agree with you that the Bucs are looking for a TE that can stretch the field. I personally love Engram, and you can teach him to block a bit better. But at his size to run a 4.4, that’s some serious speed, and is what Koetter asked for at the end of last season. I’m just hoping we could… Read more »

macabee
Reply to  cgmaster27
4 years ago

Evan Engram had a combine interview with the Bucs, but no further contact has been reported. He has a private visit with the Bears. Good guy. Will be a day one pick!

MudManVA
4 years ago

I personally hope the BUCS GO WR in round 1 (Davis). Don’t like projects with effort/heart issues for first round picks. They have a low success rate.

Nice deep TE draft this year, and Where was Brate drafted, that’s right.

But in Licht I trust, GO BUCS

Alldaway 2.0
4 years ago

Are the Bucs interested in investing in projects like Njoku? Lets face it compared to the other TE’s in this draft Njoku is a project and you are drafting his upside.

We know Licht loves to do that (Evans, Winston) so to me it makes sense if they do draft Njoku.

Hank Scorpio
4 years ago

Lacked effort in drills but still looked good and put up great numbers? Hmm…

And I don’t recall effort being a concern in anything I’ve read about him. Fake news!

scubog
Reply to  Hank Scorpio
4 years ago

Perhaps his athleticism just made it look easy.

martinii
4 years ago

I like many are overwhelmed and confused over who the Buc’s will pick in the draft. I read article after article about Dalvin Cook and the Buc’s. Several analyst have him going to the Buc’s and that would be great with one minor exception. He is not going to be there at 19! Unless the Buc’s trade away their 2nd Rd pick or The Colts, Jags, and Panthers needs magically change it’s not going to happen. John Ross is another hot projection at 19 but all the speed in the world is useless when you are sitting on the bench… Read more »

cgmaster27
Reply to  martinii
4 years ago

This is a tough one indeed, and at some point , is there that inevitable QB run before us? Somebody has got to slide. I don’t want the Bucs to trade up for anyone. Heck , in a draft this deep, I don’t mind even trading back if someone they want isn’t there. But chances are , a good player is going to fall to us.

Buc 1976
4 years ago

He would be a good pick at 19. There may be 3 QB,S taken in top 17 so to soon to tell how many players Bucs are targeting.

toofamiliar17
Reply to  Buc 1976
4 years ago

I’ll be shocked if three QBs get taken that high. I’ll go as far as to bet that only one is taken before we pick.

I hope I’m wrong. I think the max is two, and I’d be thrilled if that happens.

Buc 1976
Reply to  toofamiliar17
4 years ago

Teams that needs QB reach every year! Just look at Blake B #3 if I remember EJ Mannual, Johnny Manzel and so on.
I am not saying it will happen but there are at least 4 teams. In top 17 that need a QB.

drdneast
4 years ago

I watchef a lot of tale from last yrars game and our weakest position was LG.
So how doed moving Marpet to center and Sweezy to LG fix this problem.
About 15 years ago we had a pretty good guard who wss primarily a center. He also prefered playing center but the Bucs made him play pretf.
So what happened?
The first chance this guy got he bought a one way ticket to Charlotte and never lookef back.
Pethaps someone should ask Marpet what the potential All pro desires before we start playing Dr. Frankenstein.

toofamiliar17
Reply to  drdneast
4 years ago

Why do you assume the team hasn’t talked to him about it? That would be weird.

scubog
Reply to  drdneast
4 years ago

I’m trying to remember who you are referencing. I suspect it’s the youngster we had who started out OK then declined for some reason and was released. I’m old so going back into my memory banks is a long trip.

While you were watching the tape surely you noticed the questionable play at center too.

SenileSenior
4 years ago

Once again I must thank you, Macabee. You have added some clarity to the potential TE situation for our draft. I personally expect that whatever went wrong with the vetting process with ASJ has been addressed. I really loved the idea behind what they were trying to do. That is why I would love to see us draft in the early rounds, a Howard (which I have little hope of), a Njoke or someone who could give us the luxury of having two quality tight ends. _____ The general consensus seems to be “enjoy the ride”! We have a chance… Read more »

scubog
Reply to  XpfcWintergreen
4 years ago

There’s probably even some who think we should draft a QB and try to trade Winston. Maybe even my friend Pink.

Buc 1976
4 years ago

OJH is the Best TE I have seen in a very long time I do not see any weakness in his game!
If the price is not steep to move up 3/4 spots to get him DO IT! He can block,run like a WR and catch the ball. Also does not have off field issues! This draft is so deep losing a 2018 2nd rd and 2017 4 or 5th rd would be WORTH IT!