Jets Predicted to Land ‘Star’ Pass Catcher in 2023

Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State

Getty Former Ohio State wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba warming up ahead of a college football game.

The New York Jets might get a new offensive toy this offseason.

ESPN NFL Draft Analyst Mel Kiper Jr released his mock draft 1.0 on Wednesday, January 25. In that very first edition, he predicted Gang Green would land Ohio State wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba.

Kiper said that he is a “big fan” of the former Buckeye wideout and strongly believes he could be a “star in the right situation.”

A Potential Family Reunion Could Be in Order on 1 Jets Drive

Mel Kiper delivers a NEW star pass catcher to the Jets in his ESPN Mock Draft 1 0Boy Green reacts to Mel Kiper's mock draft 1.0 being dropped on ESPN: who the heck did the #Jets select? What did Mel say about it? Is he crazy? We also have a FULL column you can check out here on Mel's pick for the Jets: Make sure you LIKE the video & hit…2023-01-25T13:13:41Z

If the Jets actually invested the No. 13 overall pick in the first round on JSN he would be reunited with his former Ohio State teammate Garrett Wilson in New York.

Gang Green selected Wilson with the No. 10 overall pick in the first round of the 2022 NFL draft.

Smith-Njigba experienced an injury-plagued campaign during the 2022 college football season. Due to those injuries he only caught five passes and only appeared in three games.

However, in 2021 he had a record-breaking campaign catching 95 passes for over 1,606 yards to go along with nine touchdown receptions. JSN averaged an outstanding 16.9 yards per catch in that season. As Kiper noted in his mock, most of that production came out of the slot.

When you look at his college career though some may question the one-year-wonder status of his production.

JSN didn’t make much of an impact as a freshman, exploded as a sophomore, and had an injury-riddled final campaign with Ohio State. So this would certainly be a sexy selection on draft day albeit an extremely risky one.

Since 1986, the Jets have only selected three wide receivers in the first round of the NFL draft:

  • 2022: Garrett Wilson
  • 2001: Santana Moss
  • 1996: Keyshawn Johnson

Wide Receiver Is a Super Sneaky Need for the Jets in 2023

Kiper mentioned right off the top that he considered taking an offensive lineman with the No. 13 overall pick before ultimately deciding to go wide receiver.

At this stage of the offseason a pick in the trenches will be the most popular with all of the uncertainty on the offensive line.

However, don’t overlook the importance of the wideout position.

Wilson is a stud, Elijah Moore had a bad year but he is still super talented, and Corey Davis’ future is extremely murky.

The Jets could decide to hit the eject button for minimal dead cap ($666,667) and would save over $9 million in cap space.

Davis hasn’t delivered on what he was supposed to bring to the team, but his contract isn’t atrocious for the position. He is by annual salary the 28th highest-paid wide receiver in the league.

There is a world where the Jets decide to keep him because he brings toughness and size to the wide receiving corps.

Regardless he is getting older and the NFL is an offensive-driven league. You can never have enough weapons and JSN would certainly register in that category.

Late in the 2022 season, the Jets changed Moore from a primary outside receiver to a primary slot guy. So if they selected Smith-Njigba they’d have to figure out where all of the pieces are going.

However, that is a problem for the new offensive coordinator to figure out once they hire one. This is something the kids today like to call a first-world problem.

JSN is only 20 years of age and he will turn 21 ahead of the 2023 season opener.

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