Could Jaxon Smith-Njigba reunite with Justin Fields in Chicago? Brian Baldinger thinks so


(Audacy) With the start of the NFL Draft looming April 27, teams are finalizing their big boards.

While most of the attention is on the quarterbacks in the first round, there are a few wide receivers who could be worth a look early on.

NFL insider Brian Baldinger of the Audacy Original Podcast “In The Huddle” identified his top receiver in this draft class and could see him going as early as No. 9 overall to the Bears.

“My favorite receiver in this draft is Jaxon Smith-Njigba from Ohio State,” Baldinger said (2:29 in player above). “Look, he played two games this year. He had a nagging hamstring injury, knocked him out of a lot of games.

“But Jaxon Smith-Njigba is really good. His year in 2021, he had 1,600 yards receiving. He had 17 yards a catch. He had 95 catches. He was a router. He’s a little bit bigger than most of these receivers in the draft. He’s every bit of 6-foot. He’s almost 200 pounds. So he’s built pretty sturdy. He ran a 4.52, which isn’t elite, but it’s not bad.”

Baldinger pointed out that the Raiders' Davante Adams, arguably the best receiver in the NFL, ran a 4.56 back in 2014 coming out of Fresno State. He believes that Smith-Njigba can get by with that given his ability to run routes, change direction and the fact that he makes catches with his hands.

“To me, I think he’s going to be the first receiver taken,” Baldinger said. “Could Chicago take him at No. 9? It’s possible. They got to keep building around Justin Fields … They need help. I could see him going No. 9 to the Chicago Bears. I can’t see him going any earlier than that to anybody.”

Smith-Njigba and Fields overlapped for one season at Ohio State.

While the Bears are the first team that comes to mind for a receiver, they aren't the only possible destination for Smith-Njigba.

“I could see him going to Chicago or to Tennessee (at No. 11) or possibly to New England (at No. 14),” Baldinger said. “I think those are all wide receiver-needy teams. Teams that need to make a splash, I think, at that position.”

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