He hasn’t lived up to expectations for the Cleveland Browns, but is 2022 finally time for the David Njoku breakout?
Through three games, the Cleveland Browns are very much in the thick of the AFC. Suspended quarterback aside, they’ve played very efficient ball on the offensive side. Kevin Stefanski’s play calling, combined with the personnel along the offensive line and the duo of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, are making running the football a clinic. They’re gashing teams left and right with six and seven yard chunk runs while occasionally finding explosive plays.
The passing offense looks good too, led by Jacoby Brissett. Brissett is playing with great anticipation and has build a great rapport with Amari Cooper. David Njoku also had a big night against the Steelers, posting nine catches for 89 yards and a touchdown.
Njoku was a first round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, and has certainly received the expectations a first round pick often gets. His second season in 2018 (56/639/4) made it look like year three would be a breakout campaign. Alas, it wasn’t the case.
With a mix of an injury-riddled 2019, an arrival of the Odell Beckham/Jarvis Landry duo, the signing of Austin Hooper, and the struggle of playing with an injured Baker Mayfield in 2021, Njoku just hasn’t found it through five seasons. It was great to see the Browns still believe after signing him to a four-year, $54.75 million deal with a potential out after 2024.
Thursday night was a clinic, and David Njoku proved that he can be a big factor in the Cleveland Browns offense. He was building that rapport with Brissett, and found holes in the Steelers zone coverage to pick up chunk plays. His touchdown was the bread and butter of his game, winning with the ridiculous athleticism and leaping ability, and proving he can be that catch point alpha. His work as a red zone threat will be especially important against teams who can hunker down in the red zone and limit the threat of the running game. As the Browns continue to maneuver their way through the 2022 season, we could definitely see more of David Njoku stringing together games like this.