The first round of the 2023 NFL Draft is here, and the top players are coming off the board fast. the latest player to do so is Ohio State wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, one of the top receivers in the class. Smith-Njigba was a dynamic threat for the Buckeyes, and now he hopes to bring that talent to the NFL level with the Seattle Seahawks after going No. 20 overall. Smith-Njigba was the first wide receiver selected in this draft after falling a bit further than expected.
But what exactly are the Seahawks getting in Smith-Njigba? To answer that question, let’s look back on his football career to this point and break it down.
Jaxon Smith Njigba’s Pre-College Football Career
Smith-Njigba played his high school ball at Rockwall High School in his hometown of Rockwall, Texas. There, he was a complete monster with 5,346 yards and 82 touchdowns receiving in 44 career games. He was named the Texas 6A Player of the Year as a senior.
According to 247Sports, Smith-Njigba was a five-star recruit, the fifth-best receiver, and the 29th-best overall player in the 2020 recruiting class. He received offers from a plethora of Power Five teams, with some notable ones being Nebraska, Arkansas, Texas Tech and Notre Dame. In the end, he decided to take his talents to Columbus, Ohio.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba’s College Football Career
Smith-Njigba started his Buckeyes career slow, posting just 10 receptions for 49 yards in seven games as a freshman. Given how much talent Ohio State has in its receiver room, it’s understandable why Smith-Njigba didn’t see the field much early on. The next season, though, he would become the face of that stacked receiver room.
In 2021, Smith-Njigba had a monster season with 95 receptions for 1,606 yards and nine touchdowns. His most memorable performance came in the Rose Bowl against Utah, when he set a Rose Bowl record with 347 yards and three touchdowns on 15 receptions. Keep in mind that this Ohio State team had Garrett Wilson and Chris Olive, the No. 10 and No. 11 picks in the 2022 NFL Draft, respectively, and Smith-Njigba outperformed them both.
After such a monster season, expectations were sky high entering the 2022 season. Unfortunately, Smith-Njigba suffered an injury in the season opener against Notre Dame and never fully recovered. In the three games he managed to play, he had just five receptions for 43 yards.
Despite the injury-riddled season, Smith-Njigba officially declared for the 2023 NFL Draft on Dec. 5.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba’s NFL Draft Fit With Seahawks
Smith-Njigba’s success in the NFL depends on how well he can bounce back from his injury. If he can return to that elite 2021 form, then he could be an amazing player at the professional level.
Scouting reports list Smith-Njigba’s catching, ball-tracking and contested catch ability as some of his biggest strengths. On the other hand, some of his weaknesses include his middling speed and lack of a burst after the catch. This skillset has led many to see him as being primarily a slot receiver at this level. However, he has the tools to succeed anywhere on the field, it’s just a matter of utilizing them correctly.
The Seahawks already had DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, and now they add another dynamic weapon to the receiving corps. Geno Smith should be a happy man with this pick after signing a new contract with the club. Seattle should have an explosive offense with this group and will look to return to the playoffs in 2023.
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