The Cleveland Browns will likely once again look to fortify the WR position in the offseason. GM Andrew Berry fleeced the Dallas Cowboys for Amari Cooper and Donovan People-Jones continues to develop while making strides this season. Rookie receiver David Bell is becoming increasingly involved and surely part of the Browns plans moving forward. Outside of these three players, the Browns have more questions than answers. While the Browns could look at WRs in free agency, the answer could already be playing in the state of Ohio.
Ohio State WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba Declares For Draft
Ohio State WR Jaxon Smith-Njibga recently announced that he will miss the Peach Bowl and enter the 2023 NFL Draft. The move was met with speculation about the seriousness of his injury that has kept him sidelined for most of this year and where he will go in the NFL Draft. Could Smith-Njigba fall to the Cleveland Browns in the second round?
Smith-Njigba was part of a 3 headed monster at Ohio State in 2021. The other two wide receivers each went early in the first round of the draft, Garrett Wilson with the 10th pick, and Chris Olave at the 11th. JSN finished 2021 with more receptions (95) and receiving yards (1606) than both Wilson (70/1058) and Olave (65/936). Considering Wilson and Olave came off the board so early, the future seemed bright for Smith-Njigb, and it still could be. The question is, will he go as early as his former teammates did?
Smith-Njigba has been dealing with a hamstring injury this year limiting him to appearances in just 3 games. He has just 5 receptions for 43 yards in the 2022 season.
I can't speak for every scout in the league, but the feedback I've heard from NFL teams is Jaxon Smith-Njigba is absolutely making the right choice skipping the Peach Bowl.— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) December 7, 2022
His injury isn't just about pain tolerance, he could do major damage by pushing it before healthy. https://t.co/mGCIfemXJZ
What Draft Analysts Are Saying About Jaxon Smith-Njigba:
ESPN Draft Analyst Todd McShay recently said that scouts were telling him Smith-Njigba was healthy enough to play in the Peach Bowl and that he’s simply sitting out to protect himself from injury prior to the draft. The comments didn’t sit well with Jaxon’s family who took to Twitter to refute these claims. McShay noted that he didn’t think that if this were true it would hurt his draft stock. He also added that he believes Njigba could fall into the second round.
Forgive the boomer screen record method, but Todd McShay (via ESPN’s College Football Live) just reported that NFL scouts believe Jaxon Smith-Njigba is healthy enough to play and is sitting out to protect his draft stock pic.twitter.com/rlD75yhLgQ— ARG_Ryan (@B1G_Ryan) December 7, 2022
Another Draft Analyst, Dane Brugler of The Athletic, has Smith-Njigba going at the end of the first round. He mocked him going to the Minnesota Vikings at pick 29 at the end of November. Brugler believes that Smith-Njigba is “polished” but not a “slam dunk first-rounder.” He also suggested that many teams will have him as a day two pick on their draft board.
PFF did a mock draft earlier in November that had Smith-Njigba going to the New York Giants at pick number 28 in the first round.
What could cause Jaxon Smith-Njigba to fall in the draft?
It’s clear that there is a wide range of outcomes being speculated on when it comes to where he will get drafted. Many still believe he will go early on day one. Some think he will ultimately go on day two. They might be crazy, but a few have him falling even further.
It’s unlikely that his hamstring will cause enough injury concern for scouts that it would affect his draft stock. His performance at the scouting combine and/or pro day could be the key to his rise or fall in the draft. While he’s very talented, he ultimately played just one full season. His lack of experience could be concerning for many front offices but they can’t deny he’s talented. A GM’s risk tolerance could affect their ability to pull the trigger on draft day. Unless he times with elite speed or size, a strong showing in interviews, workouts, and drills will be a must for Smith-Njigba.
Could Jaxon Smith-Njigba fall to the Cleveland Browns?
The Browns first pick in the 2023 NFL Draft will be in the middle of the second round. Absent an effort to tank this season if they fall out of the playoff race, the pick will likely be moving in the wrong direction. Without further injury concerns or poor testing, Smith-Njigba probably won’t make it to Cleveland in the draft, however, it’s not impossible.
Would you want the Browns to take a chance on Jaxon if they have the opportunity to select him in the draft? Should the Browns make an effort to move up to the end of the first round or up in the second round if he’s available?