We all have our draft crushes every year, and just like last year with Chris Olave, there’s always a shiny skill position player that fans of the Green Bay Packers convince themselves will fall into the Packers lap during the NFL Draft. Jaxon Smith-Njigba is arguably the best wide receiver prospect in the 2023 NFL Draft, and Packer fans have definitely noticed.
With what most would deem a “decent” frame at 200 pounds and 6 feet, 1 inch tall, it’s his other traits that are sticking out above the crowd. The Ohio State product boasts an arsenal of tools that would help him to look like an elite slot receiver at the NFL level. While not scorchingly fast, Smith-Njigba is incredibly agile and appears to have hands as good as any receiver in the draft class. All of this to say that many Packers fans essentially believe that prime Randall Cobb may end up in Green Bay’s grasp very soon.
So, will he be drafted at 15?
I’m not sure if you could tell by the tone of the introduction, but… no. Jaxon Smith-Njigba may not even fall out of the top 10, and even if something unforeseen comes up that makes teams scoot him lower on their draft boards, you can bet the Packers will do the same. Smith-Njigba may be the best prospect at wide receiver in this class, and he may have the potential to be Green Bay’s best receiver for the better part of the next decade, but there are too many reasons why he won’t fall, and why if he does, Green Bay won’t select him.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba would be an ideal pairing for a Packers team that will likely be without a few of their receivers from 2022. On the other side of that argument; however, is the fact that he doesn’t exactly fit the mold as the type of receiver that the team usually targets. The Packers like a receiver who is big, tall, able to catch 50/50 balls, and definitely able to block.
Smith-Njigba is average sized for a wide receiver, he’s not particularly fast, and while his high relative athletic score is held up by his agility, it’s still probably a bit lower than the Packers would like out of a first rounder. All this is without mentioning that the Packers, as we all know very well, haven’t drafted a wide receiver in the first round of the draft in 20 years. In order to decide if Smith Njigba ends up on the Packers radar at 15 we have to consider who might take him before then, as well as who the Packers may want instead.
Considering the possibilities
The fact is, there are 5 teams that look almost equally likely to take a chance on a wide receiver before the Packers are on the clock at 15. The Lions, Bears, Titans, Texans, and Patriots all look like teams that don’t exactly have desperate need for a wide receiver, but could stand to improve at the position. If Jaxon Smith-Njigba is taken in the top 15, there’s a much better chance that it is by one of these other teams.
The odds are that the Packers’ “best player available” mentality will lead them to choosing a player besides Jaxon Smith-Njigba whether he’s available or not. They may not roll out a flashy pick at all; they may like what they see in an offensive line prospect like Paris Johnson Jr. or Darnell Wright. If you buy into what the mock drafts say they may even select tight end Dalton Kincaid, who looks to be the strongest player in the class at a position that the Packers desperately need. Some folks even believe the Packers could take running back Bijan Robinson — which would probably be a terrific pick — if a player of his caliber could even fall to pick 15.
Ultimately it’s fairly difficult to predict exactly what the packers will do in the first round any given year, but there are some general rules of thumb about what they won’t do. Given what we know about the past, I think we can be pretty sure there will be at least one or two available players that the Packers prefer to the fanbase’s draft crush in Jaxon Smith-Njigba.——————
Zack is a college student and cheesehead from California. When he’s not in class or writing, you can find him talking about the Packers on Twitter at @Zack_Upchurch.