While waiting for the post-season draft sheets, the editorial staff of TDActu offers you, every Tuesday, a spotlight on the future nuggets who will join the NFL in 2023.
Born February 14, 2002 in Dallas, Texas
1m83 for 90 kilos
Receiver, Ohio State, junior
Wide receivers Garrett Wilson (Jets) and Chris Olave (Saints) both make thunderous NFL debuts. They thus justify their selections for the 2022 draft: respectively 10th and 11th choice.
Yet while they had 26 touchdowns between them with Ohio State, observers considered Jaxon Smith-Njigba the best of a dubbed trio. Earth, Wind & Fire.
And while the two NFL rookies skipped the last game of the year, JSN took the opportunity to smash all records: 347 yards and 3 touchdowns during the prestigious Rose Bowl against Utah!
If I were a quality: regular
The precision of his movements allows him to create separation. If he will have to fight against rough NFL cornerbacks in individual marking, he will already be very effective against a zone defense, with his ability to identify where to go.
Precise in his movements and lively on his support to suddenly change direction, in the famous trio of Ohio State, he was “the earth”. The one that forms the basis of an attack, by the regularity of his contribution: he is this type of receiver capable of moving the chains several times per match, in all matches.
If I was a fault: five
Five like its number of receptions in 2022! Quickly handicapped by a tendon injury, he was unable to perform the season that everyone expected: that of a winner of the Biletnikoff Award (best NCAA receiver) and in the running to be a top 10 pick in the 2023 draft.
This absence also cost him the opportunity to perfect his technique: if he was a reliable receiver in 2021, he nevertheless had to show even safer hands in 2022. A few catches with the body and a few balls released in 2021. But his injury prevented him from working on this in a match situation.
The predictions announce that he is already in good shape and that he will have regained all his physical capacities for the beginning of 2023: in time for the famous draft process.
If I Were a Date: NFL Combine and Private Tours
Of course, the NFL Combine (February 27-March 6, 2023) will be paramount in assessing his recovery rate from his injury. Workshops assessing explosiveness will therefore be important. His time on the 40-yard sprint will also be because he seems to lack that burst of speed so decisive in the NFL: but a time of more or less 4.50 seconds would do the trick.
However during the NFL Combine, the 60 allowed interviews are only 15 minutes long. During a private visit, the player is present for several hours and only for the host franchise. It is now known to all that it was during his visit to Kansas City that Andy Reid fell in love with Patrick Mahomes.
NFL franchises have the right to receive about thirty players: 30 “other” players because that’s not counting players from state universities or players born in the state. Sometimes it is during lunch, where the player shares a pizza with the main members of the staff, that things are played out as to his position on their board : a choice of the 1st round of the draft is as much a sporting investment as a financial one. So the personality has an important part in the scouting report final.
If I was an NFL player: Keenan Allen (Chargers)
The comparison seems obvious, both in terms of their respective sizes and in their expertise in running the right track. Keenan Allen primarily plays in the slot in the NFL, and due to Olave and Wilson’s presences, Jaxon Smith-Njigba has also mostly occupied that area in the NCAA.
The term slot-receiver is demeaning for these players, as opposed to those playing away. Yet, examples contradicting this are plentiful in the NFL. In addition to Keenan Allen, Cooper Kupp (Rams) and AJ Brown (Eagles) play half their stocks inside! Just like Amon-Ra St.Brown (Lions), another player with whom JSN can be compared.
If I was a draft pick: 20-40
The talent is there. Unquestionable. From 1st round to “bet that is tempting” at the top of the 2nd round: his physical condition will be decisive as to his spot during the draft. JSN will have the first quarter of 2023 to solidify its rating.
If I were an NFL team: New York Giants
If Daniel Jones does not give all the guarantees to be a quarterback who can carry his team to the Super Bowl, he has nevertheless shown that he could claim a second contract in the NFL.
It’s time for the Duke-trained quarterback to have more throwing options. First-round pick in 2021, Kadarius Toney has since been sent to the Chiefs. Still in 2021, Kenny Golladay was signed at a golden price: fans are still waiting for him to score his first touchdown!
Jaxon Smith-Njigba has the potential of a WR1, the type to transform an attack. Coach Brian Daboll and manager Joe Schoen are having promising rookie seasons. But both know they have to do even better because the city of New York looks like the exomoon Pandora: very beautiful and at the same time ruthless!