For the first time in a long time, maybe ever, we have two good tight ends who are first round prospects. Good tight ends that can catch are surprisingly rare in the NFL today, and the last really good prospect to go in round one, Eric Ebron, looks like a bust after three seasons. I think that Njoku and Howard will be better than Ebron, and I am almost positive that both guys will be selected by teams who already have quality tight ends.
Despite his impossible to pronounce last name, Njoku’s a stud and is better than OJ Howard. Njoku is very athletic and a reliable target for his QB, which isn’t easy when your QB is Brad Kaaya. As a receiver, he uses his big body to box out DB’s, and is able to generate yards after the catch. Njoku sucks as a blocker, but blocking’s overrated anyway. Njoku makes up for his lack of blocking skills by making tough catches in traffic, down the field and underneath.
Compares To: Jimmy Graham-Seahawks
Howard has all of the skills to be a very good tight end in the NFL. He is bigger than Njoku and a better blocker, but he’s not ready to be a top receiving TE just yet. This of course, is due to Howard playing in a read option scheme at Alabama. He does show the ability to be a good receiver, and is a good athlete for the position. At 6’6″ he should develop into a big redzone threat.
Compares To: Travis Kelce
Bucky Hodges-Virginia Tech
Hodges is a guy who will get overdrafted based on potential. He lined up outside as a receiver a lot at Virginia Tech, but struggled immensely to create separation against much faster DB’s. I don’t know why they tried to use Hodges as a wide out at Virginia Tech, but he clearly sucked at it. He also ran the ball from the backfield quite a bit, but there’s no way he’ll be used in that capacity in the NFL. Regardless, Hodges will get overdrafted in the 2nd or 3rd round by a team who will love his “versatility,” which means he’s OK at a lot of things, but doesn’t really do anything particularly well.
Compares To: Will Tye-New York Giants