The Seattle Seahawks ended what was the longest active spell between first-round receivers taken when they selected Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba at No. 20 overall in the 2023 NFL Draft. Seattle last used a Round 1 pick on a wide receiver in 2001, when Koren Robinson went No. 9 overall.
Smith-Njigba has been universally praised as a quality choice by the Seahawks, who have really lacked a consistently reliable third wide receiver for several seasons in a row. Alongside DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, Smith-Njigba’s inclusion figures to give Seattle one of the NFL’s best wide receiver trios.
ESPN’s Matt Bowen analyzed 16 players as “perfect fits” for the team that drafted them, and Smith-Njigba is part of that list.
Here’s the description (behind the paywall):
Why he is a perfect fit: Smith-Njigba has the versatility to play as a boundary or field receiver on the outside, but the fit here mainly points to slot alignments in the Seahawks’ 11 personnel (1 RB, 1 TE) sets. Smith-Njigba can use his lateral quicks and route-running traits to uncover for quarterback Geno Smith, with DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett playing outside. He can make an immediate impact on schemed concepts, isolation routes and catch-and-run targets.
Smith-Njigba has the skill set to complement the Seahawks’ veteran wideouts, and his arrival in Seattle boosts the pass game for Pete Carroll’s team from a matchup perspective. He was limited to five catches last season while dealing with a hamstring injury but dominated in 2021 with 1,606 receiving yards.
I know there is reason to be a little nervous about Smith-Njigba missing most of last season with injury, but if he’s healthy the one full year he played he looked like the best receiver on a team that had Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson. He really has a big opportunity to open up the playbook for offensive coordinator Shane Waldron in ways we’ve not seen in quite some time.