(WIVB) — It’s rare that you could call a rookie season a bounce-back year, but that might end up being the case for Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba.
Smith-Njigba is widely considered one of the top wide receivers in this year’s NFL draft. In 2021, he set the Big Ten single-season record with 1,606 receiving yards, while catching nine touchdowns and leading the Buckeyes an 11-2 record, culminating with a win in the Rose Bowl against Utah.
However, a nagging hamstring injury kept the star wideout off the field for the majority of the season. He was limited to just three games, where he caught just five passes for 43 yards. He had to sit out some practices during that time as well.
However, he is looking forward to this year’s draft.
“Very frustrating last year I never had an injury that sat me out for games or even practice,” Smith-Njigba said. “But I feel like I’m going to come out a person, better man, better player so I’m thankful and looking it as a positive.”
Smith-Njigba is a talented route runner who scouts say can help a team in many different ways, but a lack of top-end speed is a knock. However, he says that he can help a team wherever they need it.
“I feel like I’m a player wherever you ask me to be I can be outside, inside, pitching me the ball, punt return, wherever you need me to be I’m the type of guy to get it done,” he said.
However, Smith-Njigba, who is projected as a first round pick, may be out of reach for the Bills. Several mock drafts see him being picked within the first 15 selections, well ahead of the Bills, which owns the 27th pick of the first round. Trading up is always a possibility if the team’s front office brass is enamored with him.
However, he would be excited to come to Buffalo and join a team that has been one of the top in the league the past few years.
“Playing with an elite quarterback like that would be awesome, especially if I’m lined up next to Stefon Diggs and just learning from him,” Smith-Njigba said. “I think it would be a big key for me to expand my game and help that team.”
Aidan Joly joined the News 4 staff in 2022. He is a graduate of Canisius College. You can see more of his work here.
Josh Reed is an award-winning journalist who has served as News 4’s Sports Director since 2015. See more here.