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2023 NFL Draft analysis: How will the Seahawks utilize Jaxon Smith-Njigba?

A look at what the new Seahawks wide receiver could do in Shane Waldron’s offense.

Rose Bowl Game presented by Capital One Venture X - Ohio State v Utah Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

With the 20th overall pick in the NFL Draft the Seattle Seahawks selected Ohio State wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba. The need for another long-term pass catcher was apparent with the questions surrounding Tyler Lockett’s future with the team and Seattle addressed that with this pick. JSN is an extremely bright talent, which he showed in his 2021 Rose Bowl performance where he racked up 347 receiving yards and three touchdowns on 15 receptions. The thought of that type of receiver lining up next to Tyler Lockett with DK Metcalf on the other side is mesmerizing for Seahawks fans. Down below we are going to break down how the new Seahawk will be used in this offense.

Where will he line up?

This is where the fit for me personally is a bit interesting. Smith-Njigba was used primarily as a slot receiver at Ohio State and will see the majority of his NFL snaps from there as well. Last season we saw Tyler Lockett receive a decent amount of slot reps with DK Metcalf getting some as well. It is not like Smith-Njigba entering the fray is going to force the offense to be reconfigured or anything of that nature. However, there might be a little bit of an adjustment to player routes and some personnel packages that we see the Seahawks run to make the transition easier.

Quick hitters

JSN does a lot of damage on routes 15-plus yards down the field, but he is able to create separation and produce chunk plays from 10 and in. The former Ohio State receiver is a tactician as a route runner, which is extremely evident in the first tweet. He sells a quick out with the jab step, gets the defensive back to overcommit outside and quickly flips his hips to show himself to C.J. Stroud. Then Smith-Njigba’s ever present ability after the catch is shown off as he takes it to the house for a 75-yard touchdown.

The second route doesn’t have a whole lot of flash to it, but it is solid nonetheless. He runs it with a good tempo starting slow off of the snap to prevent the defensive back from being able to recognize the route early. He also runs it at this pace to allow him to snap out of the stem once Stroud is coming off of the mesh point. If JSN ran it an even slightly quicker or slower, the timing would be off and likely would’ve resulted in an incompletion.

Slot fades

This seemed to be Smith-Njigba’s most used route at Ohio State and he ran it perfectly. In the first video off the line he starts slow to reduce the space between him and the defensive back. Then right on his second instep JSN explodes out of it, blowing right by the DB. Then as if the route wasn’t good enough, he shows off elite body control and ball tracking to trace it into his hands from an awkward angle and get his feet down. This is a route he will likely run frequently for the Seahawks, especially when lined up on the same side as DK Metcalf. A slot fade would allow him to occupy a deep safety, helping Metcalf get into open space over the middle of the field.


The 20th overall pick doesn’t only run short and deep routes; he’s also deadly in the intermediate passing game, running overs and in-breaking routes. He is able to seamlessly snap in and out of breaks which is very apparent on digs. His hips are very fluid which allows him to change direction on a dime and create natural separation.

Overall thoughts

This is a great pick for the Seattle Seahawks and one that makes this offense significantly more dynamic. If a defense wants to load the box to stop Kenneth Walker lll, then good luck stopping Metcalf, Lockett, and JSN out wide. But, if they decide they want to double Metcalf or shadow Lockett over the top, Smith-Njigba will rip the defense apart underneath. Importantly as well the Seahawks added another home run threat to the offense to go along with Metcalf and Walker lll. Some offenses do not even have one player of that caliber, the Seahawks are lucky enough to have three of them.