TAMPA, Fla. -- ESPN NFL Draft analyst Todd McShay unveiled his Mock Draft 3.0 on Wednesday, and it has the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selecting University of Miami tight end David Njoku with the 19th overall pick.
In his previous mock draft, McShay had the Bucs selecting Alabama tight end O.J. Howard, who skyrocketed up to fourth overall in this new mock. The last time two tight ends were selected in the first-round of the NFL draft was in 2006, with Vernon Davis going sixth overall to the San Francisco 49ers and Marcedes Lewis going 28th overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars. That speaks to the strength of this year's class.
McShay currently has Njoku ranked 14th overall in his Top 32 draft prospect rankings, ahead of Clemson wideout Mike Williams, Washington wide receiver John Ross and Michigan defensive end Taco Charlton.
At 6-foot-4 and 246 pounds, Njoku has the frame and athleticism to succeed at the next level. He caught 43 passes for 698 yards last season, fifth among all college football tight ends, and his eight touchdowns were tied for second. He averaged 16.2 yards per reception and led all Power 5 tight ends with 480 yards after the catch.
He is also one of just four tight ends among the major conferences to record three or more catches of 58-plus yards in the last 10 years.
A national champion high jumper in high school, Njoku's leaping ability was on display when he posted a 37.5-inch vertical at the NFL combine.
His 4.64 speed is enough to get him separation on downfield throws. He's also very effective on crossing routes and shorter throws, using his 35 1/4-inch arms to stiff-arm defenders and he can navigate his way through traffic.
He lined up as an in-line blocker at Miami, in the slot and out wide, so there's a lot of versatility there.
Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter has been looking for a "Y" tight end that can function as both a pass catcher and a blocker, complementing Cameron Brate, their "F" tight end. Koetter also has been looking for more yards after the catch and more explosive plays.
Njoku fits the bill, although he's still polishing his skills as a route runner and showed some inconsistency as a blocker, which is an area he stands to improve the most. He has shown a willingness to get his head in there though, and he's still ahead of several of his classmates, who weren't asked to block at all in college. Getting in an NFL weight room to build up his legs and improve his core strength should help in the blocking department. He could stand to put on about 10 pounds without sacrificing speed and leaping ability.
What's remarkable is he has been playing the position for only two years and he's only 20 years old, so he might have the highest ceiling of any tight end in this year's draft class.