SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

Reaction: Why Seahawks drafted WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba at 20

Apr 27, 2023, 8:31 PM | Updated: Apr 29, 2023, 3:58 pm

Seattle Seahawks Jaxon Smith-Njigba...

Jaxon Smith-Njigba with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being drafted by the Seahawks. (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)

(Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)

Just before the Seattle Seahawks made their second selection of the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft, Brock Huard had a feeling.

“I can make a great case for Jaxon Smith-Njigba,” said Huard, a FOX college football analyst and former quarterback, on Seattle Sports’ live NFL Draft coverage.

Seattle Seahawks Draft Breakdown: A look at every 2023 NFL Draft pick

Smith-Njigba, an Ohio State wide receiver, doesn’t play a position seen as the biggest need for the Seahawks, and with Seattle taking cornerback Devon Witherspoon earlier at No. 5 overall, it seemed pressing for them to add to the defensive front. That isn’t what the Hawks did, of course, and Huard was right on the money.

“I mean, you pair him with Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf, and with Tyler’s age – and I’m not saying you’re old Tyler, because you’ve got some years left – I think it is a value at No. 20,” Huard said. “The No. 1 receiver in this draft? I can make a strong case that he might just be the right guy here for Seattle.”

Bob Stelton of Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob understood the reasoning after spending the last two months interviewing Seahawks general manager John Schneider every Thursday.

“They go with the top wide receiver in this year’s draft by everybody’s estimation, and it’s exciting to think of the possibilities,” Stelton said. “It doesn’t address their most pressing needs, but this is them sticking to the philosophy (of) ‘We’re going with the best player available’ that they’ve got on their board.”

Huard thinks Seattle got a steal, pointing out that Smith-Njigba likely would have been a higher pick if not for a hamstring injury that held him back last season.

“If he didn’t have a hamstring this year, he is a top-10 pick, end of story,” Huard said. “He had a hamstring this year that bothered him, he tried to come back from, eventually he just had to fold the season unfortunately. The year before he shattered the school record at ‘The’ Ohio State University for receptions and yards.

“Once again, I’ll come back to what I always do – I want production. He caught 17 passes in a game twice. His route running on the inside, you just can’t cover him. He’s not as big as Cooper Kupp… but on the inside, he will run option routes on anybody. He’s got a tremendous feel.”

Huard added that he expects Seahawks QB Geno Smith to be clapping in approval of the pick.

Dave Wyman, Stelton’s Wyman and Bob co-host who is a former NFL linebacker and current Seahawks Radio Network color commentator, had an different kind of observation about Smith-Njigba.

“You know what’s kind of interesting about him? He’s got kind of a weird gait,” Wyman said. “It’s a little bit unusual, and I feel like if you’re unconventional, that is to your advantage.”

Seattle Seahawks NFL Draft coverage will continue all day Friday and into Saturday on Seattle Sports. Catch Huard on Brock and Salk from 6-10 a.m. Friday, and Wyman and Bob will be live from Seahawks headquarters during the second and third rounds Friday on the video stream on SeattleSports.com and the Seattle Sports app,  with former NFL wide receiver and current Pac-12 Network analyst Michael Bumpus joining them.

2023 Seattle Seahawks draft picks

• First round (5th overall): Illinois CB Devon Witherspoon
• First round (20th overall): Ohio State WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba
• Second round (37th overall): Auburn edge Derick Hall
• Second round (52nd overall): UCLA RB Zach Charbonnet
• Fourth round (108th overall): LSU guard Anthony Bradford
• Fourth round (123rd overall): Mississippi State defensive tackle Cameron Young
• Fifth round (151st overall): Michigan edge Mike Morris
• Fifth round (15th overall): Michigan center Olusegun Oluwatimi
• Sixth round (198th overall): New Mexico safety Jerrick Reed II
• Seventh round (237th overall): Georgia RB Kenny McIntosh

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Reaction: Why Seahawks drafted WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba at 20