The NFL Draft is next week and teams are finalizing their big boards ahead of the event.
While most of the attention is on the quarterbacks in the first round, there are a few wide receivers that could be worth a look early on.
NFL Insider Brian Baldinger of the Audacy Original Podcast “In The Huddle” identified his top wide receiver in this year’s draft class and could see him going as early as pick nine to the Chicago 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 1600 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 six 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 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 catches with his hands.
“To me, I think he’s going to be the first receiver taken,” Baldinger continued. “Could Chicago take him at number nine? It’s possible. They got to keep building around Justin Fields…They need help. I could see him going number nine 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 and the QB-WR duo could be a force to be reckoned with in the NFL.
While the Bears are the first team that comes to mind for a receiver, they’re not the only possible destination for Smith-Njigba.
“I could see him going to Chicago or to Tennessee or possibly to New England,” Baldinger said. “I think those are all wide receiver-needy teams. Teams that need to make a splash, I think, at that position.”