WR2: Jaxon Smith-Njigba (Ohio State)
Jaxon Smith-Njigba outproduced first-round picks Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave as the trio dominated the Big Ten in 2021. With the latter two names departing for the league, JSN was expected to step into the WR1 role and lead the offense.
Unfortunately, a nagging injury kept Smith-Njigba from seeing the field much in 2022. After suffering a setback during recovery, the star receiver made a business decision to withdraw from returning to the Buckeyes, with his priority becoming getting healthy for the 2023 NFL Draft.
Marvin Harrison Jr. burst onto the scene in his first year as a starter, causing some folks to forget all about JSN. His draft stock took a major hit during the season, but thanks to a clean bill of health and stellar offseason workouts, Smith-Njigba is back where he belongs — near the top of the wide receiver rankings.
Smith-Njigba simply moves differently on the football field. His three-cone drill at the NFL Combine put some numbers behind it, as JSN posted one of the best scores of any receiver in recent years. The drill tests burst, change of direction, and overall agility… which is the engine that makes his car go.
Additionally, JSN is also fast enough to stretch the field vertically. While he is at his best using picturesque route running to find the creases in zone defense, Smith-Njigba has the body control and reliable hands to make big gains downfield.
The core concern with Smith-Njigba, aside from the lingering hamstring issue, is his lack of experience as the top option on offense. Sure, he led the Buckeyes in production in 2021, but we are lying to ourselves if we say Olave and Wilson didn’t contribute to that.
With the size and athleticism red flags out of the way and his injury seemingly in the background, JSN grades out as a top 20 player overall on my Big Board. He is a difference-maker for any group lucky enough to add him. Day one material, lock it in.
NFL Draft Grade: Mid-to-Late Day 1