Cleveland Browns: 5 Under the radar breakout candidates in 2020
By Randy Gurzi
1. David Njoku, Tight End
This last one isn’t really an underrated player, or at least he shouldn’t be. A former first-round pick in 2017, David Njoku has been on the verge of breaking out for several years in a row. This past season though, he took a major step backward.
Njoku, who is a great pass catcher at the tight end position, has four receptions for 37 yards and a touchdown in Week 1 against Tennessee. From there, he had just one more reception all season, for four more yards.
Part of that was due to injury as he was upended in the team’s Week 2 win over the Jets and had to leave due to a concussion. He also suffered a broken wrist on the play and was on the IR until late November. He finally returned to the field in Week 14 but after catching just one pass, he was a healthy scratch until the final week of the season.
Clearly, Njoku and now-departed head coach Freddie Kitchens were not on the same page. Njoku’s inability to get on the field was nearly as strange as the fact that Kitchens wouldn’t play Rashard Higgins even after his game-winning touchdown catch against the Buffalo Bills.
For Njoku, there’s good news heading into 2020 as Kitchens is now gone. In his place is Kevin Stefanski, who proved last year that he can utilize his tight ends. With the Vikings, Stefanski had Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith, Jr. who each had solid campaigns.
Rudolph finished with 39 receptions for 367 yards and six touchdowns while the rookie Smith had 36 receptions for 311 yards and two scores.
Njoku should have no problem fitting into Stefanski’s system and it wouldn’t be a shock to see him finally reach his immense potential this year.