Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
DOB: 02.14.02, 21 years old
The Team: Tennessee Titans
The Titans find themselves in a state of flux for 2023. This offseason, they have had a significant exodusof players, losing the following to free agency: guard, Nate Davis, linebacker David Long, wide receiver Robert Woods, linebacker Bud Dupree, edge Demarcus Walker and tight end Austin Hooper. They alsocut offensive tackle Taylor Lewan, centre Ben Jones, edge Mario Edwards, linebacker Zach Cunningham and tight end Jeff Swain. These players alone represent over 5000 snaps from last year. In conjunction with the A.J. Brown trade, and rumours of Kevin Byard, Jeffrey Simmons and Derrick Henry being on the trade block, and despite whatever they present themselves as, the Titans are setting themselves up for a full rebuild. With the tenth pick, the goal should be to find a player at a premium position that will warrant a major second contract and will represent a foundational piece for many years to come.
The draft rumour mill on the Titans in full spin. There has been significant chatter that they are looking to move up from eleven with to the Cardinals’ third pick. For this exercise, we stick with the eleventh pick aware that this may not be their pick spot come draft day.
At quarterback, Ryan Tannehill has one more year of significant dead cap consequences. Malik Willis is an unproven commodity who had a QBR of 12.4 in limited work last year and poses as a significant project. Quarterback is absolutely on the table for the Titans. However, in a quarterback class wherethe three top options are already gone, Will Levis is the remaining top option and with a number of other weaknesses on the roster that could benefit from an influx of talent, the Titans will look elsewhere.
Offensive line is one of and likely the most significant of those weaknesses (I wrote this paragraph when I thought Peter Skronoski would still be available). The current projected starting line is as follows: Andre Dillard, Daniel Brunskill, Aaron Brewer, Dillon Radunz and Nicholas Petit-Frere. Their respective PFF grades, with the Eagles line from last year for comparison was as follows:
However, similar to quarterback, the draft board did not fall the Titans’ way for offensive line. The draft board saw both options that I had ranked at this spot for Titans, Paris Johnson and Peter Skoronski, go at picks 7 and 9 respectively. The remaining first round options of Broderick Jones, Dawand Jones, Anton Harrison and Darnell Wright, all felt like a reach and desperation plays given the talent still remaining at other positions. For a team in rebuild mode, the best approach is to pick the best player available in the context of positional value and team needs.
This is how we get to wide receiver. In their current state, the Titans will trot out Treylon Burks, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine and Kyle Phillips on opening day. As a group, they totaled 919 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns last season. As a fun comparison for a number of reasons, A.J. Brown had 1496 and 11. The team needs to diversify its offence away from a run-centric approach. A top tier wide receiver is much needed. For this year and for whoever is at quarterback beyond, a strong wide receiver room makes this job so much more easier a maxim Eagles fans know well.
The Player: Jaxon Smith-Njigba
Jaxon Smith-Njigba (“JSN”) is the best wide receiver prospect in this draft class. JSN enters the draft as a 21 year old junior. His spider graph is reflective of his play, it shows a smaller (not undersized or too thin) receiver:
At his Ohio State pro day he ran a 4.48 40 yard.
JSN is a receiver with excellent separation skills, especially out of the slot. The tape and expert summaries indicate a player with outstanding route runner and separator arising from elite footwork and body control. His hands and ball skills are fantastic. He couples this with a heady understanding of what defenses are trying to do as well as how to find open space and use leverage to maximize that space to create catch point advantage. He is a technician at wide receiver. However, he is not a slot only prospect. His Ohio State career showed he can equally operate out at the edges as he did from the slot.
Unfortunately, due to ongoing hamstring injuries throughout the 2022 season, JSN was limited to three games. For his college career his 2021 is the season to rely on. In that season he had 1606 yards receiving and 9 touchdowns. 2021 was a season for JSN his receiver group included excellent NFL rookies Garret Wilson and Chris Olave. From those experts who watched much more college football than I, more than one opinion of them was that of those three receivers, JSN was the best one.
Not sold? Tape should be the heaviest weighted factor in considering any draft prospect. For JSN, the tape this is the strongest component in his evaluation. Throughout his college career he showed a consistent ability to get open at all levels of the field. Rather that show breakdowns of single play showing how he breaks down defenders find space and his sure hands the coup de grâce for this pick to be JSN is his 2021 Rose Bowl against Utah. He totaled 15 receptions for three touchdowns and 347 yards! Enjoy:
A few Jaxon Smith-Njigba highlights pic.twitter.com/33yn9R9fRV— Mr. Ohio (@MrOH1O) November 28, 2022
Do you approve of this pick?
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2023 BGN Mock Draft Order
1) Panthers (pheebthegoose): QB Bryce Young
2) Texans (Phoenix X Minimus): QB C.J. Stroud
3) Cardinals (alwaysaphillyfan): EDGE Will Anderson
4) Colts (eaglenomics): QB Anthony Richardson
5) Seahawks (The Player Formerly Known as Mousecop): DT Jalen Carter
6) Lions (Sam2TheMaximum): DE Tyree Wilson
7) Raiders (joey2arms): OT Paris Johnson Jr.
8) Falcons (Kephas): CB Christian Gonzalez
9) Bears (chewy wellington): OT Peter Skoronski
10) Eagles (Philly21): CB Devon Witherspoon
11) Titans (RachAttack): WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba
12) Texans (Domonate)
13) Jets (JawnJam)
14) Patriots (Amish Eagle Lion)
15) Packers (bdawk4ever)
16) Commanders (the dog did it)
17) Steelers (Dr.MidnightGreen)
18) Lions (DreadPirateRocco)
19) Buccaneers (Neil Dutton)
20) Seahawks (wardbell92)
21) Chargers (Brendanekstrom)
22) Ravens (Rollinpin)
23) Vikings (FierceDisc65)
24) Jaguars (Leo Bedio)
25) Giants (dkays)
26) Cowboys (roberticus01)
27) Bills (EHyungNim)
28) Bengals (mainmanham)
29) Saints (RiverCityEagle)
30) Eagles (ablesser88)
31) Chiefs (Hoosinole)
Now it’s time for you to vote for who YOU think should be selected in the 2023 BGN Community Consensus Mock Draft.
Who should the Titans select at No. 11 overall?
This poll is closed
WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba
WR Jordan Addison
WR Quentin Johnston
OT Broderick Jones
OT Darnell Wright
QB Will Levis
QB Hendon Hooker
1) Panthers: QB C.J. Stroud
2) Texans: QB Bryce Young
3) Cardinals: EDGE Will Anderson
4) Colts: QB Anthony Richardson
5) Seahawks: DT Jalen Carter
6) Lions: DE Tyree Wilson
7) Raiders: OT Paris Johnson Jr.
8) Falcons: CB Christian Gonzalez
9) Bears: OT Peter Skoronski
10) Eagles: CB Devon Witherspoon