The 2023 NFL Draft is less than a month away. Though the Green Bay Packers’ first-round compensation for what feels like an inevitable Aaron Rodgers trade is seemingly becoming less and less certain, a hit in the first round of this draft could immediately help the team steer back in the right direction.  

Even though Green Bay selected Christian Watson in the second round last year and the team feels confident in Romeo Doubs’ abilities, a receiver in the first round this year isn’t out of the question. This week, we look at Ohio State receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, widely considered to be the top receiver in this year’s class. 

WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State 

Despite Smith-Njigba potentially being the top receiver in the 2023 class, there’s a realistic chance he falls to Green Bay’s pick 15, as the receiver class is generally considered relatively weak. There is hardly a single blue-chip guy at the position. The 21-year-old Smith-Njigba is listed at 6’1, 196 lbs. Though he likely won’t be selected in the top 10, it’d be outrageous if he made it out of the first round.  

Smith-Njigba had one of the most prolific seasons by any receiver in college football history in 2021 before missing most of 2023 due to injury. It’s worth noting he played with 2022 first-round selection and NFL Rookie of the Year candidate Chris Olave as the receiver alongside him and CJ Stroud at quarterback, who may very well be the first overall pick in this year’s draft. Still, despite a great team around him, Smith-Njigba’s production in his healthy season speaks for itself. How does the film stack up? 


  • Fluid, smooth runner 
  • Route running 
  • Shiftiness  
  • Hands 
  • Ball tracking/adjustment 

Smith-Njigba has all the technical tools to be a great NFL wide receiver. His route running is fantastic. He has clear competence in multiple facets of an NFL route tree, especially in the short and intermediate areas. His shiftiness is on display both in his route execution and in the yardage he’s able to pick up after the catch. He’s a satisfyingly smooth player to watch on the field with or without the ball in his hands.  

There are very few drops in Smith-Njigba’s film. He is exceptional at cleanly snatching balls out of the air, adjusting to somewhat off-target throws, and displaying a high level of concentration while tracking the ball and bringing catches in.  


  • Strength 
  • Speed 

There aren’t many obviously identifiable weaknesses in Smith-Njigba’s game besides his natural abilities. 6’1 is a solid height for a receiver, but not to the point where Smith-Njigba can consistently climb the ladder and use his height to his advantage. He won’t be using his size to dominate on the field. He is an average to below-average blocker in the run game.  

Smith-Njigba has about average speed for a receiver. He doesn’t often utterly burn the defense and clear defenders by several yards. Though he’s shifty and quick enough to make moves on defenders to pick up some extra yardage, he’s usually unable to take catches to the house even with nothing but green grass ahead of him. Defenders will catch him from behind, and often catch him soon after he makes the grab.  


Smith-Njigba appears to be an NFL-ready wide receiver. His route running is exceptional for a 21-year-old who missed a large chunk of time due to injury in college. His hands are great. He’ll get open and make the catch, even if he’s unable to create a lot of yardage afterwards. I think these skills make up for the average physical traits he possesses. He fits the mold of a technical receiver. He reminds me of Keenan Allen, or even Davante Adams, in some respects.  

Smith-Njigba is a far more polished receiver than a guy like Zay Flowers, another 2023 receiver prospect we recently reviewed. I think Smith-Njigba would be a fantastic addition to the Packers’ wide receiver corps and is a guy who could have an impact on day one. There might be some more crucial needs the Packers could address in the first round, but picking a receiver in the first round would just be so fun as a Packers fan, especially with a talent like this.  

Overall: B+ 


Liam O’Donnell is a devoted Packers fan and an aspiring sportswriter from Milwaukee. He writes for and you can follow him on twitter at @liamodonnell___.