Jaxon Smith-Njigba could soon be Seahawks best receiver
JSN's rise to being better than two 2022 first round WRs and potentially two 2024 first round WRs on Ohio State's roster
Teams haven’t had to wait long to see their first round receivers produce, as of late. On StatHead, I searched for all receivers picked in the top-34 (because you gotta get Tee Higgins in there) and sorted by first-year targets, and of the 37 who were thrown to at least 100 times as rookies there have been 15 since 2014.
Of those 15, we have 10 such rookie seasons since 2020 alone. Here are the top-10 since 2020:
Surprisingly, this entire group only combined to miss three total games during their rookie season, including two by Chris Olave and one by Jaylen Waddle. These rookies have averaged 941.3 yards on 121.2 targets, averaging 75.7 catches. But the remaining 11 names since 2020 picked in the top-34, while mostly worse, aren’t as far off as you might assume.
Jameson Williams was recovering from a torn ACL at the time of the draft, so we can put him and his single-catch rookie season in his own separate category entirely. In fact, all 11 of these players missed at least three games.
The 10 other receivers averaged 464.9 yards as rookies, which could still nearly come close to 600 yards if they had been healthy. Last season, Christian Watson had 523 yards and seven touchdowns over his last eight games, while Jahan Dotson (all rhymes should be considered coincidental) had 344 yards and three touchdowns over his final five.
We know that Brandon Aiyuk and Michael Pittman have both since produced season of 1,000+ yards but they were also fairly productive as rookies when healthy. The only name on the list who is a confirmed football-related bust without extenuating circumstances would be Jalen Reagor, so far.
One more notable item to mention here as it relates to the Seattle Seahawks and 20th overall pick Jaxon Smith-Njigba: Of the 10 players who had at least 900 yards as rookies, eight were picked in the top-20. Justin Jefferson went 22nd and Tee Higgins went 33rd. Smith-Njigba was the first receiver off the board and not a single hush would have fallen over the crowd if he had been picked closer to the top-10, so for a player who is fifth all-time in Texas high school receiving and who set single-season Ohio State records for catches and yards in 2021, I think it’s fair to expect him to fit alongside former teammates Garrett Wilson and Olave in a future version of this list.
Or in the words of Geno Smith, “He’s pretty good”.
Previously on Seaside Joe:
Jaxon Smith-Njigba: Let the story begin… starts with his upbringing in Texas and wowing coaches even before he got to high school, culminating in one of the greatest careers in state history. Then after a quiet season as a true freshman at Ohio State, Smith-Njigba broke out for 145 yards and two touchdowns against Oregon in the second game of his sophomore campaign.
Yes, I got a feeling that Jaxon Smith-Njigba will have a special rookie season—you can argue that he’s in a crowded room with two stars at the position, but so was CeeDee Lamb in 2020—and that he will bring his big game ability to the NFL in short order.
Those big games continue as I’ll cover the next six contests for Jaxon Smith-Njigba in another bonus article for Regular Joes today, leading into his first (not last) 200-yard game in 2021. Thank you to everyone for supporting Seaside Joe and this small Seahawks-adjacent business.
Despite playing next to two current NFL stars, JSN still had over 90 yards in four of the next six contests. Here’s how he did it: