Jaxon Smith-Njigba draft profile: The perfect compliment to Cowboys star WRs?
By Noah Weber
Jaxon Smith-Njigba is one of the most interesting prospects at the wide receiver position. He is an elite route-runner, has solid quickness as evidenced by his shuttle time and three-cone drill, and has great hands. But he has one significant downside that teams could be afraid of.
Smith-Njigba is coming off a hamstring injury that kept him out for the majority of the 2022-23 season. Although he’s been ready to play for multiple months and many think that he was healthy enough to play in the College Football Playoff, it’s still not a good sign. Hamstring injuries sometimes linger and the last thing the Dallas Cowboys need is to draft an injured wide receiver.
Smith-Njigba is set to go on a top 30 visit with the Cowboys soon. Could he be the perfect balance of CeeDee Lamb and Brandin Cooks’ game to be Dallas’ dream number three receiver?
That question and more will be answered here.
Cowboys 2023 Draft: Jaxon Smith-Njigba’s Strengths
Jaxon-Smith Njigba is one of the most talented wide receivers in the draft. Here are two of his best skills observed from a breakdown of his film.
1. Route running
Smith-Njigba’s best skill that has scouts excited is his route running. He excels at short to immediate routes but also has the ability to run deep, crisp routes down the seam.
His best routes include comebacks, in’s, out’s, shallow posts, and seam routes. He keeps defensive backs guessing and always seems to find the soft spots in the defense.
Smith-Njigba’s elite route running makes it seem like he’s always open and he’s at his best in the middle of the field. This would be a dream come true for Dak Prescott as he would always have a safety blanket open in the middle of the field, especially after his most previous security blanket, Dalton Schultz, left in free agency.
His complete route tree will force NFL defensive coordinators to game plan for him. They may even have to put their number one or two cornerback on him rather than a nickel corner due to his versatile route tree and ability to move around the field.
Smith-Njigba is as versatile as they come.
Although he mostly played slot at Ohio State, he also proved he can play some outside receiver when the Buckeyes needed him to. He’s built like a slot receiver but makes contested catches like a true X wideout.
Another way Ohio State utilized Smith-Njigba is putting him in motion and having him run a bubble route. This worked so well for them because it plays to his strengths. They know he doesn’t have the best breakaway speed but he has the ability to make the first person miss, making the bubble so effective as defensive backs would have to break down early.
He can play any wide receiver position on the field and would be a day-one receiver if drafted by Dallas.
Smith-Njigba could be the best receiver in the draft if he’s fully recovered from his hamstring injury. If drafted by Dallas it would give them a Swiss-Army knife of a receiver to complement Brandin Cooks and CeeDee Lamb. All three of these WRs can line up inside or outside and that would be a matchup nightmare for opposing coaches.
Although Smith-Njigba will more than likely go before the Cowboys’ pick at No. 26 overall, anything can still happen on draft night. He could fall down draft boards for an unknown reason and Dallas could pounce on him if he falls all the way to their pick or they could even trade up.
Never count Dallas out on players of his caliber as the Cowboys want to win now.