Jaxon Smith-Njigba 2023 NFL Draft Scouting Report

Jaxon Smith-Njigba Scouting Report

Written by Leo Sells

Who is Jaxon Smith-Njigba? Ohio State's record-setting WR set for huge  season with Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave now in NFL | Sporting News

It seems like everyone has a different opinion when it comes to the wide receivers in this class, but I think it’s a little more straightforward than everyone seems to think. Today, I’ll be taking a look at Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba to try to determine if he will be a hit or a miss for whatever team drafts him in April:

Jaxon Smith-Njigba Draft Profile

College: Ohio State

Age: 21

Position: Wide Receiver

Height/Weight: 6’1″/200 lbs

Draft Projection: Mid-First Round

Before the season started, almost everybody seemed to agree that Smith-Njigba was the best wideout prospect in the draft. Unfortunately, that consensus was broken when he missed almost the entire 2022-2023 season with a hamstring injury. He wasn’t able to confirm what people saw from his 2021 tape with another year of production, and now he has some question marks surrounding his current and future health.

In addition to a questionable injury history, many scouts are turned off by his lackluster top-end speed. He isn’t slow by any means, but he doesn’t have that top gear that many NFL teams covet in a downfield-offense era. On the flip side, he does everything well that you would want out of a more traditional receiver. He has great football instincts and IQ, and he is undeniably the most refined route runner in the entire class.


  • Runs routes like a seasoned NFL veteran; has no trouble finding the soft spots in zone or man coverage and taking advantage of them to get open
  • Uses good form to catch passes; consistently utilizes his hands rather than his body to haul in passes
  • Plays with a high level of football IQ and instincts that’s rare in college wideouts
  • Surprising lateral quickness and shiftiness with the ball
  • Possesses terrific body control and has no problem adjusting for poor throws
  • Proven college production (1,606 yards and nine TD’s in 2021)
  • Has a great release package and accelerates very quickly off the line of scrimmage
  • Led an OSU roster with two first-round receivers (Garrett Wilson & Chris Olave) in receptions and receiving yards in 2021
Football fans go crazy over Buckeyes WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba's record-setting  display at Rose Bowl


  • Minimal experience as an outside receiver – could possibly be relegated to the slot in the NFL
  • Has had some lapses in concentration that have led to drops
  • Didn’t have to face much press coverage in college
  • Missed the entire 2022 season with a hamstring injury
  • Doesn’t possess the elite downfield speed that other prospects have

The Verdict

After watching all the film and weighing the positives and negatives, I have Jaxon Smith-Njigba as my top WR and a top-ten prospect for the 2023 draft. I understand the concern with his hamstring injury, but those usually tend to be more of an issue for older players, so I’m not overly concerned with his future health. I also don’t think the top-end speed issue is a deal breaker. Is it less than ideal? Absolutely. But his 40 time will end up being close enough to plenty of productive NFL receivers (CeeDee Lamb, Amon-Ra St. Brown, etc.) to the point where it shouldn’t stop him from being an effective player. Whether he’s better in the slot or on the outside is yet to be determined, but I think that he’ll be capable of playing both at an NFL level. 

His film had me sold from the start. I went into watching it knowing that he’s a good player, but I came out of it thinking I just watched a five-year NFL veteran. He’s that pro-ready. I can’t get over how mature and smart he is as a player, and I also think it’s unwise to bet against Ohio State receivers. I know I might be higher than the consensus is on him, but I’m willing to label him as a ‘my guy’ for the draft this early in the process.

Grade: Early First Round

Pro Comparison: Amon-Ra St. Brown

Team Fits: New York Giants, New England Patriots, Chicago Bears


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