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Prospect Preview: Jaxon Smith-Njigba

Position: WR

College: Ohio State

Height: 6’ 1”

Weight: 196

Age: 21

247 Rating: 0.9856 (5 Stars)

By: Nate Christian (@NateNFL)

The Rundown:

A favorite to be the top receiver in the 2023 draft class, questions surround Jaxon Smith-Njigba (JSN) after a mysterious junior season in 2022. Coming off an impressive sophomore season, we only saw Smith-Njigba play in three games in 2022 as Ohio State made a playoff run. Now going into the NFL Draft, he looks healthy and seems to be doing everything right in the pre-draft process. A very talented slot receiver, he could take on a large volume role for a team as he has a knack for getting open in the middle of the field.

College Production:

Alongside Garrett Wilson ($5,138,502) and Chris Olave ($4,817,969) while catching passes from C.J. Stroud, Smith-Njigba put together an incredible sophomore season with 95 receptions, 1,606 receiving yards, and 9 touchdowns which culminated with 15 receptions for 347 yards and 3 touchdowns in the 2022 Rose Bowl against Utah. The hype around Smith-Njigba going into the off-season was incredible, the bona fide WR1 in the 2023 NFL Draft class despite still being a full year out. Smith-Njigba would unfortunately pick up a hamstring injury and it would keep him out for the majority of his junior season (three limited games with a total of five receptions for 43 yards).


  • Quick-Twitch AthleteAs advertised by his 6.57 second 3-Cone Drill and 3.93 second 20-Yard Shuttle, JSN is a top athlete. His ability to get in and out of his cuts makes him hard to cover and hard to tackle.
  • TechnicianAnother in the long line of incredible route runners that have come out of Ohio State recently, Smith-Njigba may be one of the best yet. He runs a variety of routes, and his breaks are always tight and crisp. He does not waste much throughout his movement and uses his head well to get defenders flat footed.
  • Secure HandsWith a solid frame and long arms, Smith-Njigba is always a contender to get his hands on the ball, and from there he will bring in most passes. He is very comfortable catching the ball outside of his body and transitions quickly to running after the catch while keeping the ball secure.


  • Lacks Home Run SpeedWhile Smith-Njigba is certainly quick, he’s not necessarily fast. His 10-yard split would likely look great, but his top speed just lacks that elite ceiling. It won’t come back to haunt him too often, but you likely won’t see JSN pull away from NFL corners.
  • Limited to the Slot?With the 2021 season being just about 100% out of the slot, Smith-Njigba has been labeled a slot receiver and we didn’t get the 2022 season to see him play elsewhere. Brian Hartline, his WR coach at Ohio State, has talked about how JSN will not need to be limited to the slot at the next level and it’s an intriguing thought. Some Justin Jefferson ($3,280,701) vibes here.
  • Junior SeasonA lingering hamstring issue that takes you out of essentially the entire season is an unusual occurrence. I’m not reading much into it and overall, it’s irrelevant to his future NFL success, but it’s still just weird.

Projected Round/Contract:  

Jaxon Smith-Njigba is a lock for the first round at this point, but the range within the top 31 picks is wide. Smith-Njigba’s talents could be worth a Top 15 pick if a team believes that he could be used in multiple positions at receiver (in the slot and outside at the Z), but many mock drafts have placed him in the back half of the first round. Adding in the fact that the wide receiver free agent market was weak this year, rookie wide receivers could be pushed up the board as teams look to fill the gaps in their depth chart through the NFL Draft.

If Smith-Njigba was picked in the middle of the first round of the NFL Draft, he would likely be looking at a salary of around $3.8 million to $4.4 million a year over the first four years of his rookie contract. With the upside he has in fantasy football as a volume target out of the slot, a salary in this range would make him an incredible value in Dynasty Owner.

Team Fits:  

The Houston Texans are starting to look like the best possible landing spot for Jaxon Smith-Njigba. With the recent trade of Brandin Cooks ($19,882,000) to the Dallas Cowboys, the team will be looking for a new WR1 to take the reins with their incoming rookie quarterback. The Texans currently hold the second and 12th overall picks in the first round. Whether that incoming quarterback is former Heisman winner Bryce Young or JSN’s college quarterback C.J. Stroud, the future would look bright for the partnership in Houston.

Another team that would be a fun spot for JSN would be the Seattle Seahawks. With two first round picks, they could look to pick up the top receiver in the class, but at #5 overall they may be too early and at #20 they may be too late. But if they can make it happen, JSN would be a great addition to the duo of DK Metcalf ($24,000,000) and Tyler Lockett ($17,250,000). As Lockett gets older, the team would be able to push that work to JSN and give themselves insurance at the position long-term in case Metcalf doesn’t re-sign in 2026. Plus there is no better way to treat your new quarterback(s) than to give them another great receiver to throw to.

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