Browns TE David Njoku shines at rookie minicamp: 'He's a freak'

David Njoku shined bright this past weekend, catching nearly everything thrown his way and, in the process, drawing plenty of oohs and ahhs from those watching on the sideline.

Rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer might've put it best. "He's a freak," he said.

"To be as big as he is over there with his crazy muscles and being 6-foot-5 and jumping and catching it one-handed, it definitely makes for an easy target to throw."

Njoku, whom the Browns selected with the 29th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft last month, has the potential to be a mismatch problem for opposing defenses as early as next season. The former national boys high jump champion is built like a power forward and runs like a track star.

"I think I can be a crucial player for the Browns," Njoku said. "I just have to keep working hard."

Njoku, who was recruited by Miami as wide receiver and briefly moonlighted at linebacker, caught 64 passes for 1,060 yards and nine touchdowns in just nine starts and 22 games. He's a threat in the vertical pass game and can make defenders miss in open space. All of that was evident at minicamp, as Njoku — who clocked a 4.64-second 40-yard dash at 246 pounds — galloped down the field and weaved himself through defenders.

At just 20 years old, though, he'll admit he's still a work in progress. That's something head coach Hue Jackson made clear after Saturday's practice, which watched him challenge Njoku during an offense-defense scrimmage late in the session.

"I like him, but he has to play consistently every play," Jackson said. "He has taken a lot of snaps out there. In fairness to the guys, we didn't have the numbers at tight end so I know he's a little tired, but it gives me a chance to love on him in a different way and push him a little bit."

After all, the Browns are counting on Njoku to play a key role next season, especially following the departure of veteran tight end Gary Barnidge. ​ But first, Njoku and the rest of Cleveland's rookies will have to master a new playbook and assimilate into a culture that Browns coach Hue Jackson described as strong as it's been in two years.

"I just have to work hard, study a lot with the playbook," Njoku said. "It's a brand new playbook for me."

He added: "I know that I need to work really hard. I made it this far and I know God has a plan. I am just going to keep working, keep studying, keep praying and see how far that takes me."

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