Justin Fields’ Top Choice for Bears Draft Pops Up on Rival Packers’ Radar

Bears Draft Target

How far would Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles go to prevent the rival Green Bay Packers from a draft target?

“They are definitely looking for a receiver,” Ohio State wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba said of his meeting with the Bears’ most-hated rival, per Gery Woelfel of Woelfel’s Press Box.

Bears quarterback Justin Fields made it clear who he would like to see his general manager, Ryan Poles, select in the 2023 NFL Draft.

“I’m going my man Jaxon Smith-Njigba,” Fields told the ‘Pardon My Take’ crew from the Super Bowl on February 15. “I’ve seen him in action. I’ve seen how he can separate himself like that (snaps fingers). His body control is crazy. He didn’t get to play this past year. He didn’t get to show what he could do. So I’m hoping he falls to us somehow.”

Fields was speaking from the standpoint that the Bears had traded down from No. 1 overall. The specific scenario presented by host Barstool Big Cat gave them multiple shots at nabbing blue-chip prospects. The former 11th-overall pick did note that the team needs help in the trenches. But just how far can the Bears afford to fall back and still have a shot at a player their (presumed) franchise quarterback has mentioned by name?

WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba Pops Up on Hated Bears Rival’s Radar

Should Bears Pair Jaxon Smith-Njigba with Justin Fields?

Second-year wideout Velus Jones Jr. had an established relationship with Fields before the Bears selected him in the third round last year. And Poles reportedly upped his offer to the Pittsburgh Steelers to land Chase Claypool, whom the Packefs were also said to be targeting last season.

Smith-Njigba does not figure to be around nearly as long as Jones despite not putting up big numbers in his final collegiate season. He also offers a very different dynamic than the 6-foot-4, 230-pound Claypool.

Smith-Njigba caught just five passes for 43 yards in an injury-marred season for Ohio State. But, in 2021, he racked up 1606 yards on 95 receptions. This includes setting the NCAA record for receiving yards in a bowl game with 347 yards on 15 receptions with three touchdowns against Utah in the 2021 Rose Bowl.

He battled with a hamstring injury this season that he admits he regrets rushing his return from. Listed at six feet and 197 pounds, injuries could be a theme around his stock. Of course, he can always point to DeVonta Smith of the Philadelphia Eagles as an example of a slight frame succeeding in the NFL.

Likewise, pairing Smith-Njigba with Fields elicits visions of Smith and former Alabama teammate Jalen Hurts doing well for the Eagles. Or of Cincinnati Bengals duo Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase.

“We have always talked about him being like a big brother to me,” Smith-Njigba said via CHGO Bears. “I definitely appreciate it coming from a guy like that. …“We definitely had a little connection back in the day. Hopefully, we can do it again.”

Smith-Njigba also came to his former teammate’s defense over criticism about his passing.

Bears’ Commitment to Justin Fields

Some may have viewed Poles’ assertion that the Bears would do their due diligence on the quarterbacks in this class as a non-endorsement of Fields. He also seemingly left the door open by saying he would have to be “blown away” in meeting the prospects to shift gears on Fields who he did not draft.

Poles was also clear that Fields had several moments that “blow you away” last season. He also called for the third-year passer to make strides as a passer. But Poles expressed confidence that the quarterback will. Getting him some weapons – be it Smith-Njigba, TCU’s Quentin Johnston, or even Tennessee’s Jaylin Hyatt all of whom had positive things to say about the young passer — is the next step on the front office’s side of that equation.

Bears Potential Draft Target Lands on Packers’ Radar

Smith-Njigba also said he met with the Dallas Cowboys. Like every other prospect, will have met with all or most of the league by the time all is said and done. His comments – as well as those from Johnston or Hyatt for that matter – need to be taken with a grain of salt. This is the most public job interview in the world, after all.

While Smith-Njigba may certainly think he is a good fit with Fields, we were never going to hear negative things about the latter from players who could be catching passes from him in a few short months from now.