2023 NFL Draft Profile: Jaxon Smith-Njigba

by Jon Witt
2023 NFL Draft Profile Jaxon Smith-Njigba

In this 2023 NFL Draft profile, I'll be breaking down Ohio State wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba.

If you have not already, make sure you read Evan's 2023 NFL Draft Profiles for Bijan Robinson and Jahmyr Gibbs!

Smith-Njigba's NFL Draft odds to be the first WR selected is now -105 compared to Quentin Johnston's +300.

Smith-Njigba flourishes in the slot and has proven time and time again that he can make the tough contested catches over the middle. There are some questions surrounding his top-end speed and there are some health concerns but there is enough to like to get excited about him in the pros.

2023 NFL Draft Profile: Jaxon Smith-Njigba

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  • College: Ohio State University
  • Position: Wide Receiver
  • Height: 6'1"
  • Weight: 196LBS
  • Age: 21


Smith-Nijba was a four-star recruit coming out of Rockwell High School in Texas in 2020. He was the number fifteenth overall recruit that year and second at his position.

He struggled to get on the field his freshman year playing in only seven games. During those seven games, he managed to catch seven balls for only 49 yards and a touchdown.

Going into his sophomore year he was named the starting slot receiver and really exploded onto the scene.  He had a career year across the board with 95 receptions, 1,606 yards and nine touchdowns. The highlight of that season was when he set the Ohio State and FBS Bowl record for receiving yards during the Rose Bowl against Utah. His full array of skills was on display as he torched Utah for 15 receptions, 347 yards and three touchdowns.

Unfortunately, Smith-Nijba he could not build off of that Rose Bowl performance as his junior season was plagued by a nagging hamstring injury.  That injury caused him to miss all but three games of the season including their bowl game.


Smith-Nijba is as tough as they come and it shows in the way he plays.  Combine his toughness with his elite soft hands and he makes a great slot/possession prospect for the NFL.

He is fast off the line, getting into his breaks quickly, and is just as fast-moving laterally as he is vertically.  He can quickly become a quarterback's best friend with his ability to get open and find the soft spots of a zone defense.

While there is some concern with his top-end speed, he has shown that he has no issue playing vertically and finding the seams. He tracks a deep ball with ease and hauls them in more often than not.

He uses his excellent route techniques to his advantage of mismatches and will make the tough catch across the middle. He is not afraid of contact and possesses great body control.


Speed kills in the NFL nowadays and some scouts are concerned that Smith-Nijba lacks the top-end breakaway speed and separation speed after the catch. He did not run the 40 at the combine so we will have to wait until his pro day to see if his speed has improved.

Injuries were never a concern for Smith-Nijba until his junior year. It would not be as worrisome if he did not miss almost the entire season. It does seem like it is behind him as he did perform well at the combine but it is on the mind of scouts.

Granted the production in his sophomore year was recording-breaking, but there are some concerns that he only has one productive year in college. He did not see the field as a freshman and only played three games this past season.  With the lack of game film on him, there is a real chance he slips in the draft.

Fantasy Outlook

Smtih-Nijba may not have all the making of an alpha WR1 stud but he does have the makeup for a productive fantasy WR.

It is too early to tell exactly where he will land but his value will come in PPR leagues if he lands in a pass-heavy offense.

Right now he is the first,  second or third WR taken in rookie mock drafts. The WR rookie class is very jumbled at the moment but I cannot fathom him falling out of the first round for rookie drafts.

WR-needy teams like Buffalo, Kansas City, New England and Baltimore could all be a landing spot for Smith-Njigba. In an ideal world for fantasy purposes, the Bills and Chiefs would be the landing spot, both feature pass-heavy offenses with elite quarterbacks.

Buffalo could start him in the slot on day one. The slot position has been lacking in Buffalo and Smith-Njigba could easily be a fantasy-relevant player his rookie year alongside Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs. With Diggs drawing all the attention from the secondary, Smith-Nijgba could draw a lesser corner in coverage. Diggs and Smith-Nijba would be a dynamic one-two punch for Allen.

On the flip side of that, Baltimore and New England would not be ideal. Baltimore is a run-first offense that as of right now is unsure who will be under center. New England has struggled to put out a fantasy-relevant wide receiver since Tom Brady left. It has been a wasteland for wide receivers and one where rookies seem to go and die (see N'Keal Harry).

Check out our other 2023 NFL Draft Profiles and our latest 2023 NFL Mock Draft

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