Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State (6’0”, 196)
What Scouts Say:
Exceptional ball skills, and elite route running, but lacks top-end speed. Gets open with pacing and patience to find spots in the zone. Only one year of elite production. He has oOutstanding hands and tracks the deep balls in stride, sharp cuts on his routes create separation. Primarily ran out of the slot in his breakout year, when Olave and Wilson were the X and Y, and questions about if he can play on the boundary. Insane year-two production before an injury kept him out most of his junior season. A 19-year-old breakout age with Wilson and Olave on the field at the same time still crushed. Straight line speed and hands, but not a torcher. Gets open, but may be limited to a slot role in the NFL. Even with one year of elite production, it was the most elite production. Reliable and dependent, a high IQ guy. A powerful leg drive will break arm tackles. Not a top-speed guy, or a jump ball guy.
What We Saw:
People are really gonna talk themselves out of Jaxon Smith-Njigba, aren’t they? The injury stuff is somewhat concerning, but if he passes medicals there’s no reason he isn’t a serious contender for the first WR off the board, and he should be the first WR off the dynasty rookie draft board as well. Sure, he might be primarily a slot guy at the next level, but slot WRs put up serious fantasy points and real-life production. He’s not flawless: his blocking isn’t exactly what you’d want it to be, and while he is effective, the Ohio State offense gave him so much space to work that there is going to be a concern that in smaller windows his skills might not be as prominent. That said, JSN is going to be a QBs best friend; he is constantly moving and finding ways to work back to a scrambling passer, he works the sidelines amazingly, has great hands, reads the zone with patience, possesses football IQ in heaps, has top tier ball skills, and a release package that was clearly influenced by his former running mate, Garrett Wilson. A team is going to draft JSN in the first round and feed him 110 targets. What more could you ask?
JSN is going to fall in the draft due to a mid-combine and medium RAS score and will probably fall down the ADP ladder, but I truly do not care what his 40 time is. It is not going to be great and that should not ruin a prospect. Granted his top-end speed is bad, and he gets run down all the time, but in the right system, he is going to be an absolute PPR machine. Will he break off a 70-yard TD, probably not, but he’ll get you 40 and 5 points per play, which I’m more than happy to take. He might not have downfield speed but he makes defenders look like they’re on skates off the line with quick lateral speed. Great hands, eyes, and patience to find the ball. We’ll see where he lands, which will determine where we should spend our capital. If he’s drafted as a WR2 on a team, he’s got one of the safest floors. We’ll see. If he’s drafted as a WR1, we’ll have to be a tad more hesitant to see if he can be that true X-factor player all over the field. Let him fall in drafts because I’ll pick him up wherever I can.
Amon-Ra St. Brown/Keenan Allen