NFL DRAFT PROFILE: Jaxon Smith-Njigba WR/Ohio State

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Jaxon Smith-Njigba

  • Position: WR
  • School: Ohio State
  • Class: Junior
  • Height: 6-0
  • Weight: 198

Background

  • 5-Star Recruit by 247 Sports
  • Amassed 104 catches, 2,094 yards, and 35 TDs as a Senior in high school.
  • 5th ranked player overall in the state of Texas.
  • 2021 Rose Bowl MVP (15 catches, 347 yards, 3 TDs)

  • Finished the 2021 season with four straight games of 100+ yards.
  • Avg. 16.8 yards per reception in 2021.
  • Only appeared in three games in 2022 due to injury.

 

Strengths

  • Short area quickness and ability to stop on a dime are both solid, catches the ball, and is decisive whether moving laterally or North/South.
  • Sound and versatile route runner with elite footwork, technique, and an uncanny ability to read leverage. Very football savvy and knows when to run to open space.
  • C.O.D. (Change of Direction Skills) Crafty technician that runs with a strong base, keeps his feet underneath him, makes efficient cuts, and gets upfield with very little wasted movement.
  • Does a good job of reading coverages post-snap and making sight adjustments.
  • Yards after catch! Can make defenders miss in the open field, is tough to physically bring down, and routinely fights for extra yards.
  • Ball skills, hands, and body control! Strong consistent pass-catcher that plays the ball well in the air, knows when to protect himself and the reception by catching the ball with his body, and is willing to go over the middle.
  • Long arms and a sturdy frame to add more muscle, could see him playing between 205-210 lbs once he gets into an NFL weight room. 
  • Zone killer and will consistently get open if his release is not disrupted, utilizes head movement well when selling routes.
  • Good contact balance in traffic and knows how to absorb a hit, rarely takes a big shot.

Weaknesses

  • Top-end speed, initial burst, and overall athleticism have all been brought into question and gets tracked down in the open field too often.
  • Played exclusively from the Slot and benefited from a lot of free releases being moved around before the ball.
  • Handling press coverage! As aforementioned, he has not seen much man press so it’s unproven if he can handle playing on the perimeter.
  • Only ONE tangible year of production!

 

Overview 

Smith-Njigba entered the 2022 season as the N0.1 receiving prospect on a large number of NFL Draft boards and was considered almost a unanimous top-15 talent. Since then, he has seen his draft stock plummet due to a lingering injury that initially occurred against Notre Dame in Week 1. When you’re not around to actually play, Scouts and GMs have no choice except to fall in love with who is playing, all while dissecting every flaw in your game from the most recent film. Smith-Njigba lacks the high-end athletic prototypical traits desired in an X wide receiver today, and for that one reason, it’s difficult for me to see him being taken in the Top 10 in April. However, he does possess the three most crucial attributes for any functional receiver. He runs high-quality routes, gets open, and catches the ball. He’s not a threat to outrun double coverages or put a ton of stress on the backend, but his game at the moment is firmly in the direction of the current NFL. Savvy and crafty route running, QB Friendly, always open underneath, and a complete technician. Smith-Njigba has the most complete package of skills out of any receiver in this class and just lacks the physical traits, but it will be very interesting to see how far up he can rise if he runs an even standard 40-yard dash time at the NFL Combine or Ohio State Pro Day.