By Nick Shook
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The Browns jumped back into the first round late on Thursday night, trading with Green Bay to receive pick No. 29 and select Miami tight end David Njoku.
Cleveland traded the 33rd and 108th selections to move up to 29.
Njoku is a player who is just scratching the surface of his potential. The tight end began to find success as a redshirt freshman before exploding in 2016, catching 43 passes for 698 yards and eight touchdowns for the Hurricanes.
“He doesn’t even know yet how good he can be,” NFL Network’s Mike Mayock said after Cleveland selected Njoku on Thursday.
A high school champion in the high jump, Njoku brings athleticism to the tight end position not seen in Cleveland since the Browns last drafted a tight end out of tradition-rich Miami — Kellen Winslow Jr., in 2004. As Njoku displays elite leaping ability (37.5-inch vertical at the combine) especially in jump-ball situations, he also enjoys blocking, displayed great feet in his combine workouts and has a chiseled frame that could afford another 10 pounds of muscle.
“I’m not afraid to block,” Njoku told NFL.com in late March. “I was never afraid to block. I’ve been blocking since I was like 230 [pounds] against people who were 270. I’m just getting bigger and stronger every day, so I feel like blocking for me isn’t a problem.”
Cleveland can immediately pair the youngster, who doesn’t turn 21 until July, with veteran Gary Barnidge, but the team likely hopes to line Njoku up at the position for the next decade-plus. The selection also adds another target to a receiving corps that includes Corey Coleman and recently signed Kenny Britt.