ESPN has updated their wide receiver rankings, and the Seattle Seahawks are one of the league’s biggest climbers.
Following the draft surprise of Jaxon Smith-Njigba at No. 20, Seattle now boasts a fearsome trio of pass-catchers.
Second in the entire NFL, according the the latest report from Mike Clay.
2023 NFL Wide Receiver Unit Ranks and Depth Charts.— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) May 8, 2023
The Bengals top the chart and the Titans still have work to do. pic.twitter.com/jzBTwQHjFe
Clay actually had the Seahawks as a competent group even before drafting Smith-Njigba. The 3.1 grade reflected below was good for the eighth best receiver room.
Here is the complete first run of 2023 NFL Unit Grades!— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) March 24, 2023
Each of the 10 units are ranked 1-32 based on current rosters (assuming Rodgers on NYJ for now) and weighted based on positional importance pic.twitter.com/tphWfvU1x7
That means the addition of Smith-Njigba alone raises the opinion of Seattle receivers above six other, excellent groups.
Quite impressive for a rookie.
We’ve looked at the Seahawks WR3 woes before, but Smith-Njigba has both the tools and the opportunity to pass them all.
Recent notable seasons include:
2022 Marquise Goodwin
27 receptions on 42 targets, 387 yards, 4 TD, 9.2 yards per target
2020 David Moore
35 receptions on 47 targets, 417 yards, 6 TD, 8.9 yards per target
2018 Jaron Brown
14 receptions on 19 targets, 5 TD!?!? (remember that?), 8.7 yards per target
2017 Tyler Lockett
45 receptions on 71 targets, 555 yards, 2 TD, 7.8 yards per target
This year, however, boasts a unique combination compared to any of those past seasons. It’s a good bit of offensive line continuity, with potential upgrades even over last year. The offense is a bit more pass-happy under Geno Smith than several Russell Wilson seasons, 2021 and 2017 notably. Furthermore, DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett are such known quantities across the NFL that we’ve seen teams decide wholesale which of the two they’ll lock up for the day, resulting in alternating massive games for the other receiver.
Now try dividing those resources even further, against a player with yet another radically different skillset playing out of the slot.
This is not to say pencil Smith-Njigba in for 600 yards. There’s great pass-catching running backs now and that pesky three tight-end formation. But if he shows himself to be reliable and a good student of the game, he’s going to have far less than opposing teams’ best cornerbacks trying to cover him.