Buffalo Bills 2023 NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Jaxon Smith-Njigba
The Buffalo Bills are likely to add a new slot receiver in the 2023 NFL Draft and the best in this year’s class is probably Jaxon Smith-Njigba out of Ohio State. The Bills reportedly had a visit scheduled with the former Buckeyes’ wide receiver and he would certainly address a need for this offense.
Let’s take a look at the player and how he might fit in this offense.
Weight: 196 pounds
Arms: 30 1/2″
Jaxon Smith-Njigba played three seasons for the Ohio State Buckeyes with a breakout season in 2021. That year he had 95 receptions, 1,606 receiving yards and nine touchdowns with an incredible performance in the Rose Bowl with 15 receptions and 347 receiving yards (both Rose Bowl records) and three receiving touchdowns.
This past season, Jaxon Smith-Njigba unfortunately dealt with a hamstring injury for most of the season and played in only three games and had five receptions.
NFL.com Scouting Report for 2023 NFL Draft by Lance Zierlein
"Smith-Njigba is a possession slot receiver who lacks the shake to separate underneath and the speed to run past defenses. He’s tough in the middle of the defense and has proven he can make catches in congestion. Smith-Njigba will need to fine-tune his route running to give himself his best chance to succeed at the next level. It is impossible to ignore his monster finish to the 2021 season, and he has starting slot potential, but the speed concerns coupled with an injury-plagued 2022 season threaten to negatively impact his draft stock."
How Jaxon Smith-Njigba fits with the Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo Bills hoped that Isaiah McKenzie could provide the same if not more production in the slot over the prior year’s starter Cole Beasley. However, McKenzie struggled with the expanded role and the Bills brought back Beasley during the season.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba is the prototypical possession slot receiver as he is not going to beat cornerbacks with speed and is not a player that will generate a lot of yards after the catch. However, he can be a reliable pass catcher in those third down situations in that Cole Beasley excelled in for a number of years.
He certainly has concerns that the Buffalo Bills will need to feel confident that won’t be an issue like the hamstring injury that lingered for a majority of the season last year. This is not something that they would want to be an issue moving forward.
The other concern is that Jaxon Smith-Njigba only had one complete season with production but this is something that the front office hasn’t necessarily ignored a player for. In 2021, the Buffalo Bills used a first round pick on Greg Rousseau and that pick looks like it will work out well.
There is no question that the potential is there for Jaxon Smith-Njigba to be a playmaker for the Buffalo Bills and this offense but the front office will certainly need to do their homework if they commit a first round pick to the selection.