Jaxon Smith-Njigba Draft Profile – 2023 NFL Draft
Jaxon Smith-Njigba NFL Draft Scouting Report Introduction
Jaxon Smith-Njigba is one of the top wide receivers for the upcoming 2023 NFL draft. He has demonstrated impressive skill in his career and some see the Ohio State wide receiver as the top overall rank for his position. Yet, there is an argument that no player is as polarizing in recent memory than Smith-Njigba. Some analysts see him as the top receiver, possibly a top-10 pick, and others believe he’s a second-round selection.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba, a wide receiver and NFL draft prospect, has had a noteworthy career so far. He was rated a 5-star recruit after his time at Rockwall High School, after which, he committed to Ohio State.
During his freshman year in 2020, Smith-Njigba played in seven games for the Buckeyes, catching 10 passes for 49 yards, averaging 4.9 yards per reception, and scoring one touchdown. He had a quarterback rating of 107.5 when targeted, showing his potential as a reliable option for quarterbacks.
Smith-Njigba’s sophomore year in 2021 was a standout season, where he played in all 13 games and set the record for the best single season by a wide receiver in Big Ten history. He accumulated a total of 1,606 receiving yards and nine touchdowns, with a quarterback rating of 141.8 when targeted. His most impressive performance came during the Rose Bowl, where he caught 15 passes for a record-breaking 347 yards, solidifying his status as a top-tier receiver.
However, Smith-Njigba’s junior year in 2022 was a massive disappointment, as he suffered a hamstring injury that kept him sidelined for most of the season. He only managed to play in three games, catching just four passes, a far cry from his record-breaking sophomore campaign.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba 2023 NFL Draft Profile
Despite his hamstring injury-limited junior year, Smith-Njigba’s abilities as a receiver are impressive. He has a strong quarterback rating when targeted, showing his reliability as a receiver. In 2021, he showcased his talent as an exceptional receiver with a unique combination of speed, agility, and intelligence on the field. He is a versatile player who can work at all levels of the field and is effective at running routes and creating separation from defenders.
Scouts who view him positively will point to the breakout sophomore campaign in which he combined great production from the slot while showcasing his NFL caliber skills such as impeccable routes, speed, and an ultra-reliable at making catches in traffic across the middle.
Scouts who view him negatively will mainly point to his injury shortened final college football season. They’ll discount him because they’ll have to watch his Sophomore college football tape and think that injuries will not be a thing of the past for him. There is serious question whether or not he has enough talent and a high enough ceiling to take on the injury risk.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba forty yard dash- 4.48 seconds
Player Comparison- Robert Woods
Scouting Report- Strengths
One of Smith-Njigba’s greatest strengths is his exceptional route-running and ability to create separation. He possesses deceptive footwork, excellent body control, and can read defenders’ leverage to consistently get open and get the ball in his hands.
His intelligence and spatial awareness allow him to remain effective in scramble situations and continuously compete for open spaces. Smith-Njigba’s hands, ball skills, and focus at the catch point are outstanding, and he displays excellent field vision after the catch. Every aspect of his game is smooth, focused, and technically refined, making him a threat on all levels of the field. He can vary his release package to gain leverage and get open early in routes.
Scouting Report- Weaknesses
Despite his impressive abilities, Smith-Njigba’s top-end speed is lacking. The Ohio State product must rely on technique rather than speed to create separation, as he cannot simply outrun defenders in foot races. Although Ohio State moved him around and put him in motion, he primarily operated from the slot with free releases. He has the skills to beat press coverage with his exceptional footwork and body control, but he has not been tested in this regard. Developing his ability to play out wide is a potential question mark.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba 2023 NFL Draft Summary
The 2022 season was a missed opportunity for Smith-Njigba to showcase his development and raise further questions. However, he possesses the qualities to become a productive NFL starter. Despite his injury-limited 2022 season, his technical proficiency, on-field intelligence, and route-running ability make him a valuable prospect. Although there is room for improvement, Smith-Njigba’s skill set and promise suggest that he can succeed in the NFL as a top-end slot receiver.
- Excellent slot receiver
- Impeccable route runner
- Solid ball skills
- Injuries and severely limited game time in 2022.
- Limited route tree
- Slot only player?
Smith-Njigba’s injury during his junior year leaves some questions about his durability, and how well he can bounce back from such setbacks. Nonetheless, his overall body of work suggests that he has the potential to be an excellent NFL starter. With his speed, agility, intelligence, and ability to create separation, Smith-Njigba has the necessary tools to succeed at the professional level.
The Ohio State standout is not a clear favorite as the top receivers in this draft class, the way that Garrett Wilson was last season.
We have him as 2nd ranked receiver and our 14th overall prospect on our draft big board.