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TJ Hairston on Jaxon Smith-Njigba


Jaxon Smith-Njigba

Position: WR

School: Ohio State University

NFL Combine Results: Vert 35’, Broad Jump 10’5, 3 Cone Drill 6.57, 20 yard 3.93

Player Stats & Bio: Smith-Njigba was a five-star recruit and Texas Class 6A State Player of the Year with over 2,000 yards and 35 touchdowns receiving as a senior at Rockwall High School. He played in seven games as a reserve (10-49-4.9, one TD receiving; 3-11-3.7 punt returns) as a true freshman before joining 2022 first-round draft picks Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson to form one of the best pass-catching trios in the country in 2021. He was a third-team Associated Press All-American and third-team Big Ten Conference selection as a sophomore, ranking third in the FBS with 1,606 receiving yards and tying for ninth with 95 receptions in 13 games. With Olave and Wilson opting out to prepare for the draft, Smith-Njigba caught 15 passes for 347 yards and three scores in the team's 48-45 Rose Bowl comeback win over Utah. A hamstring injury limited him to just three games in 2022.

Notable Games: (2021)

Vs Utah- 15 Rec 347 Yards 3 TD’s

Vs Michigan State 11 Rec 127 Yards

Vs Nebraska 15 Rec 240 Yards 1 TD

NFL Comparison: Jarvis Landry

Analysis: Smith-Njigba is a possession slot receiver who lacks the shake to separate underneath and the speed to run past defenses. He’s tough in the middle of the defense and has proven he can make catches in congestion. Smith-Njigba will need to fine-tune his route running to give himself his best chance to succeed at the next level. It is impossible to ignore his monster finish to the 2021 season, and he has starting slot potential, but the speed concerns coupled with an injury-plagued 2022 season threaten to negatively impact his draft stock. I could see him falling into that mid to late 1st round for a team in need a of slot receiver. His quickness and yards after catch is what separates him from a lot of good receivers. His quickness and ability to make guys miss is also why a team should love to get this guy.

Strengths:

  • Averaged 192 receiving yards per game in last five contests of 2021 season.

  • Plays tough in the teeth of the defense as a zone-beater.

  • Elevates his catch focus when contested.

  • Leverages his intermediate break points.

  • Softens and extends his hands to meet the throw.

  • Tracks deep throws with poise and accuracy.

  • Athletic and smooth catching on the move.

  • Plays to his top speed throughout the route.

Weaknesses:

  • Vast majority of his production came in one season.

  • Rolls into his breaks with top-heavy momentum.

  • Lacks suddenness for separation in and out of breaks.

  • Below average top-end speed to win vertically.

  • Likely to be viewed as a slot-only option.

  • Lacks burst to elude after the catch.

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