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As a true sophomore, Jaxon Smith-Njigba averaged 4.01 yards per route run and caught 95 passes for 1,606 yards. All three of those marks were better than teammates Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave, who were not only selected within the first 11 picks of last year's draft but also lived up to the hype in their rookie seasons. A hamstring injury limited Smith-Njigba to only three games in 2022, but don't let that cause you to forget what he did the year before. A knock on Smith-Njigba is he was mainly a slot wide receiver in college (83% of his routes came from the slot), which could limit his upside in the NFL. But again, let's remember he shared the same field with Wilson and Olave, two bona fide elite outside wide receivers. Ohio State had to find a way to get all three players on the field at the same time, and that could've played a role in Smith-Njigba's high slot rate. It wasn't that long ago that Justin Jefferson was similarly knocked coming out of college for playing a lot out of the slot at LSU. Whoops!
And Smith-Njigba solidified his place atop the wide receivers in this class with impressive athletic testing. He had an incredible combine performance, posting a 3.93 20-yard shuttle (Fourth best among wide receivers since 2007) and a 6.57 3-cone-drill (12th-best among wide receivers since 2007). And he followed that up with an official 4.48 40-yard dash at his Pro Day. The sweet spot for Smith-Njigba looks to be picks 9 through 15 in the first round. Let's take a look at the best landing spots for him around that range.
Green Bay Packers, Pick 15
After years of depriving Aaron Rodgers of first-round weapons, Smith-Njigba could fall right into Green Bay's lap just as the Jordan Love era begins. This feels like a pick of destiny. It's too good of a story not to come to fruition, especially since Green Bay is starving for pass-catching talent outside of Christian Watson. Watson was a revelation last season, catching 41 passes for 611 yards and 7 touchdowns while adding 2 more rushing touchdowns on the ground. The Packers hit on Watson in a big way as his elite athleticism translated more and more to the NFL the more he got comfortable throughout his rookie season. Watson ranked 11th in yards per route run (2.26), fourth in yards after catch per reception (6.4), ninth in yards after catch above expectation (+1.5), 14th in average depth of target (14.3), and 14th in Next Gen Stats Open Score (73).
But outside of Watson, the Packers don't have much. Romeo Doubs was a fourth-round selection in 2022 and flashed as a rookie, catching 42 passes for 425 yards and 3 touchdowns. But he profiles as more of a team's WR3 rather than a reliable WR2. That's where Smith-Njigba comes in. It's actually unbelievable how well Watson's and Smith-Njigba's elite, yet extremely different, skill sets would mesh together. Watson would operate as more of the big play threat, while Smith-Njigba would operate as more of the reliable intermediate and slot target. Yet both players are talented enough to switch roles at times as well. This landing spot would make Smith-Njigba extremely relevant in fantasy as he would be a starter in two wide receiver sets from day one.
Tennessee Titans, Pick 11
The Titans have a similar offensive situation to Green Bay as, outside of Treylon Burks, they are starving for pass-catching help. One difference, though, is Tennessee does have an up-and-coming athletic year-two tight end that the Packers lack. Chigoziem Okonkwo ranked just 43rd at tight end in routes run/game (10.1), but he was insanely efficient as a rookie. Okonkwo ranked first in tight end yards per route run (2.61), first out of all wide receivers and tight ends in yards after catch above expectation (+3), and second out of all wide receivers and tight ends in yards after catch per reception (8.1). Still, it remains to be seen just how much the Titans will let Okonkwo play moving forward since he has received such little playing time so far.
And Burks didn't have the rookie breakout that Christian Watson did, leaving more room on the table for Smith-Njigba to become a true alpha in Tennessee. Burks ranked 29th in yards per route run (1.75), 13th in yards after catch per reception (5.4), 16th in yards after catch above expectation (+1.1), 37th in average depth of target (12.4), and 24th in Next Gen Stats Open Score (65). Like Watson and Smith-Njigba, Burks and Smith-Njigba's skill sets would correlate well. This is another landing spot where Smith-Njigba would be a starter in two wide receiver sets immediately.
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