Photo: State of the U
Photo: Canes Watch – Palm Beach Post
The National Football League will begin its annual Player Selection Meeting, or Draft, on Thursday evening. This year’s festivities come to us from the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia, PA. Just across the border from PA lies New Jersey. The Garden State has a well-earned reputation for producing talented football players who are recruited at the highest levels year in and year out.
In fact, according to this article from Bleacher Report, New Jersey ranked 14th in their ranking of the Top 25 states in the USA as far as having the highest concentrations of talented football players. Over the three days that make up the Draft, upwards of 10-15 former New Jersey high school pigskin players should hear their names called.
Of course, the biggest of those is Jabrill Peppers, who actually played for two of NJ’s powerhouse programs–Don Bosco Prep and Paramus Catholic High School. On Monday, it was reported that Peppers tested positive for a diluted sample at the combine (what does that mean anyway). ESPN broke the story down this way. How this will affect his status we shall see, but it certainly pales in comparison to last year’s video of smoking marijuana through a gas mask (earth to Laremy Tunsil, come in Laremy Tunsil!).
Another Jersey gem that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will surely give an over-the-top bro hug to–perhaps early Thursday night is David Njoku. He is the second ranked tight end prospect in the entire draft behind only O.J. Howard, who might go in the top 10 (maybe even to the Jets at #6). Njoku is a great story. He hails from Cedar Grove, NJ, and he was the star of the Cedar Grove High School Panthers football and track teams. According to Hurricanes.com, David had 76 receptions for 1,794 yards and 19 TDs in his career at CGHS, but was just a 2nd-Team all-state selection. Underscoring just what a tremendous athlete Njoku is, he cleared 6 feet, 11 inches, and won the boys’ high-jump national championship at the 2014 New Balance Nationals Outdoor.
From Cedar Grove to Coconut Grove (Coral Gables to be exact); he picked The U (University of Miami) over in-state Rutgers, Ohio State, and Boston College, among a slew of others. Following a red-shirt freshman season, Njoku quickly became Miami’s #1 tight end. It was this past season that he burst onto the scene with an All-ACC year. The 6′ 4″ 245 pounder caught 43 passes for 698 yards and 8 touchdowns, including this amazing effort:
As I mentioned earlier, Njoku is universally thought to be a 1st Round selection, and according to at least one prognosticator, he could be playing for pay a mere 11.9 miles from his hometown. In Fox Sports national NFL writer, Peter Schrager’s latest seven-round mock draft, he has David going to the New York Football Giants at #23. While Big Blue needs a few offensive line pieces in a big way, adding a talent like Njoku to the recently signed, Brandon Marshall, Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard, would make Eli Manning a happy man. Talk about an embarrassment of riches. There are however some mock drafts that have him going even before that which would be amazing. Bottom line is that just like Jersey high school football, David Njoku is no joke!
And that is My 2 Sense for this week.