BEREA, Ohio -- New Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku may be young, but he has plenty of confidence in his skills.
Despite being only 20 years old when selected in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft out of the University of Miami (Florida) back in April, Njoku believes he can be an immediate impactful player for an offense that struggled to find the end zone with consistency during the 2016 season.
“I know I can,” Njoku said during rookie minicamp. “I am confident in myself, but I am also very humble. I think if I just keep working really hard -- I made it this far. I know God has a plan. I am just going to keep working, keep studying, keep praying and see how far that takes me.”
Apparently, the Browns agree that Njoku could make an immediate impact.
Via a trade to the Green Bay Packers, the Browns moved back into the first round to pick Njoku at No. 29 after selecting former Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett (No. 1 overall) and University of Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers (No. 25 overall).
Then, the day after the first round, the Browns cut veteran tight end Gary Barnidge, a Pro Bowler during the 2015 season.
“Just have to work hard and study a lot with the playbook,” Njoku said. “It is a brand new playbook for me. I am actually getting really, really into it already, so I just have to keep working really hard.”
A 6-foot-4, 245-pound native of Cedar Grove, New Jersey, Njoku spent two seasons with the Hurricanes, where he caught 64 passes for 1,060 yards and nine touchdowns, but the junior entered the 2017 NFL Draft after a stellar year.
In 2016, Njoku turned 43 catches into 698 yards and eight touchdowns.
“I just recall the long hours of practice, running a bunch of routes whether it was corner routes or seam routes and long hard routes when you are really tired and fatigued and just doing the extra push just to better yourself by that much,” Njoku said.
Now, Njoku and his fellow rookies will look to reverse the fortunes of a Browns team that is coming off of a 1-15 season, has not posted a winning record since 2007 or made an appearance in the postseason since January of 2003.
“It is really exciting that we worked since we were little kids to go to the NFL, and now, we are here,” Njoku said. “So then, we are like, ‘What’s next?’ What is next is just the hard work of turning this around and being the best we can be. That is what we are going to do.
“It is not going to be easy. We just have to continue to work and stay true to ourselves, study the playbook that much more, take care of our bodies and work on our bodies with that. Just be the best we can be and that’s all we can do.”