Skip to main content

NFL Draft Profile: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Wide Receiver, Ohio State Buckeyes

NFL Draft profile scouting report for Ohio State WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba

Ohio State WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba
ohio state buckeyes

#11
Pos: WR
Ht: 6002
Wt: 196
DOB: 2/14/2002
Hometown: Rockwall, TX
High School: Rockwall
Eligibility: 2023

Jaxon Smith-Njigba
Ohio State Buckeyes


One-Liner:

Though he was buried behind two 2022 first-round draft selections in the 2021 season, Jaxon Smith-Njigba showed excellent agility and route running to go with above-average lateral burst and work after the catch. While his overall speed, play strength, and hands do not move the needle, Ohio State’s new top receiver is a high-floor player who can start early in the NFL.

Evaluation:

Standing out on Ohio State’s talent-laden offense behind two draft-eligible first-round picks on the depth chart is no easy feat. Nonetheless, Jaxon Smith-Njigba has managed to establish himself as one of college football’s best players entering the 2022 season. The Buckeyes’ top two receivers - who would become the 2022 NFL Draft’s 10th and 11th overall selections - opted to sit out the program’s last 2021 game against Utah to prepare for the draft; Smith-Njigba, as the team’s new unquestioned top pass-catcher, went off for 347 receiving yards and three touchdowns on 15 catches. The Texas native wins with excellent releases, route running, agility, footwork, and lateral quickness. Smith-Njigba boasts strong route salesmanship, subtle directional changes, and sharp, sudden cuts. He fights hands well throughout his route. He maintains a uniform stem and his flexible lower half allows him to sink his hips to change direction on a dime as a route runner and as a ball carrier. Further, Smith-Njigba tracks the ball well and flashes the ability to win at the catch point as a hands catcher. After securing the pass, he has an advanced understanding of timing and defenders’ angles to make them miss. That said, the Buckeyes’ star is a somewhat underwhelming athlete. His linear burst and long speed are middling and he lacks high-level play strength. As a result, opponents can stick with him if they avoid making notable mistakes. What’s more, defensive backs stay in phase when they successfully engage with their hands early in the route. Even when he does force defenders into errors, Smith-Njigba’s athleticism is not always sufficient to capitalize. He sometimes rounds his routes and occasionally loses balance through cuts. At the catch point, the Ohio State standout exhibits poor catch technique and lets the ball into his frame. He sometimes drops catchable passes. He is slow to get his head around on breaking routes to establish himself as an option. He is not a home run threat and will not take the top off of NFL defenses. As a blocker, he tends to overset and employ poor technique. He is, consequently, blown up. In short, Jaxon Smith-Njigba projects as an immediate respectable starter out of the slot or in the Z receiver role. Though he is not an outstanding athlete, his refined skill set offers him a reasonably high ceiling. He can be a reliable, high-level long-term offensive weapon.

Grade:

2nd Round

Scroll to Continue

Read More

Background:

Jaxon Smith-Njigba, from Rockwall, Texas, is on pace to be a tremendous receiver for the Buckeyes in 2022. In the final game of the 2021 season in the Rose Bowl, Smith-Nijgba had fifteen receptions for almost three hundred fifty yards and three touchdowns. Jaxon Smith-Njigba is the son of Jami Smith and Maada Smith-Njigba and was the top receiver in the Dallas region and was even named the Texas 6A State Player of the Year during his high school days. A health science major at Ohio State, Smith-Njigba will look to be one of the best receivers in the country.