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Jaxon Smith-Njigba 2023 NFL Draft Profile

Jaxon Smith-Njigba NFL Draft

Jaxon Smith-Njigba NFL Draft Overview

Position: Wide Receiver
Height: 6’1″
Weight: 196 pounds
School: Ohio State

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Jaxon Smith-Njigba NFL Draft Profile

The dynamic receiver out of Ohio State is set to be the latest in a long line of highly-touted draft picks from the Buckeyes. The 2021 Ohio State wide receiver room was as nasty as can be with Jaxon Smith-Njigba lining up with fellow first-rounders Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson. And, not to mention, Emeka Egbuka and Marvin Harrison, Jr., but that will have to wait for 2024. Wilson lauded “JSN” as “the best receiver [he’s] ever seen.”

Smith-Njigba came into Ohio State as a five-star recruit and had to fight his way onto the field in that loaded room. As a true freshman, Smith-Njigba appeared in seven games and hauled in just 10 passes, mostly in mop-up duty as the three first-rounders ahead of him relaxed. His first-career touchdown came in the fourth quarter of his first game on a Sportscenter Top 10-worthy toe drag at the back of the end zone. That was about it for Smith-Njigba in 2020.

That third first-round talent in the 2020 room was Jameson Williams and he saw the writing on the wall that Smith-Njigba was going to be special so he transferred out. It didn’t take long for him to announce his presence. In the second game of the year, JSN broke out for 145 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He was quiet for a few weeks then stepped up again against Maryland, logging 103 yards off of five receptions. At the end of the year, Smith-Njigba went on an elite tear not often seen. Over the course of his final five games, Smith-Njigba went for 240, 139, 105, 127, and 347 yards. That final mark shattered the Ohio State and Rose Bowl records.

Smith-Njigba finished with 1,606 yards and nine touchdowns off of 95 catches. Those 1,606 yards were good for third-most in the nation, 298 yards fewer than the leader…with one fewer game and 55 fewer receptions.

Expectations were sky-high for Smith-Njigba entering 2022. With Olave and Wilson off to the NFL, Smith-Njigba’s target share was set to skyrocket. Then, it all changed in the first game of the year. Smith-Njigba was taken out of the game against Notre Dame after suffering a hamstring injury. That injury plagued the Buckeye receiver all year. On two occasions, he attempted to return and evidently re-injured it. He declared for the NFL Draft in the days leading up to Ohio State’s CFP Semifinal game to the chagrin of some.


  • Polished route runner
  • Mostly complete route tree
  • Excels at underneath routes and finding space
  • Great scramble drill receiver, can find an open area for quarterback on the move
  • Elite body control
  • Top-notch ball skills, can track over-the-shoulder catches well
  • Has the ability to make the first defender miss
  • Led the way in a loaded receiver room
  • Elite agility drills at the NFL Combine


  • One year of production, missed most of 2022 due to hamstring injury
  • Viewed only as a slot receiver
  • Does not have breakaway speed
  • Will have to show he’s not injury-prone
  • Good-not-great projection

NFL Comparison: Adam Theilen

Projection: Mid-to-late 1st Round

Best Fits: Baltimore Ravens, Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Kansas City Chiefs, Tennessee Titans

Bottom Line on Jaxon Smith-Njigba

Heading into the 2022 season, the hype was sky-high for Smith-Njigba. Then, as he missed the overwhelming majority of the season, projections came crashing back down to Earth.

Overall, Smith-Njigba is a very good receiver coming from a coaching staff that has produced a number of NFL receivers who made an impact early. Even then, he led the way with over 1,600 yards in a room with Olave and Wilson. It’s no fluke that he was able to put up massive numbers numerous times.

Even though he was utilized primarily in the slot, Smith-Njigba is a polished route runner and has tape with most of the route tree. He showed an ability to get open by finding holes and shaking defenders early on. Smith-Njigba can be productive alongside elite receivers as well, considering he played 10 games with both Olave and Wilson. At the same time, when asked to be WR1, he stepped up. In Wilson’s absence against Nebraska, Smith-Njigba went for 240 yards and a score. Then, the famous Rose Bowl were he went off for 347 yards and three touchdowns. And, that’s alongside Harrison, Jr who also went off for a trio of touchdowns himself.

The concerns stem from that nagging hamstring injury. Can he stay healthy? Was 2021 just a product of the system? We have seen instances of receivers putting up massive numbers and then not playing a year (SEE: Ja’Marr Chase). However, they willingly elected to sit out, they weren’t injured as Smith-Njigba was. As great as his 2021 was, not playing much in 2022 has allowed the hype to cool off a bit.

Smith-Njigba has the ability to be a long-term starter in the NFL and even has WR1 stardom as his ceiling. JSN is still a very good receiver. The NFL loves to overthink these things, so the likelihood that Smith-Njigba goes in the top 15 is just as likely as him falling to the Chiefs at 32.

Even if he does not hit stardom as a WR1, there are plenty of slot-only receivers who make a it career. Smith-Njigba has the ability to make an immediate impact on just about any team, so his prospects will likely be greater than one may assume. NFL teams are getting an intelligent route runner who can find the soft spots in the zone and eat up yardage up and down the field.

Main Image: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY


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