Gift No. 3 - Drafting Jaxon Smith-Njigba
Like Devon Witherspoon, Jaxon Smith-Njigba was taken in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft. Smith-Njigba got off to a bit of a slower start than Witherspoon, however. This might have been due to him breaking his wrist in a preseason game, missing some time, and not being fully recovered when he did return. Plus, rookie receivers almost always have a tough time getting used to the speed of the NFL.
JSN also seemed a bit ill-used early in the season. The team seemed to think he was some kind of second coming of receiver Dee Eskridge and that would not be good for anyone. Smith-Njigba was used on shorter passes and while the team sent DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett into the middle-deep, JSN was more of a check down receiver.
But as the season has grown on we have seen JSN get more used to the design of the offense and offensive coordinator Shane Waldron call his number at important moments. This was extremely true in Week 15 when Seattle absolutely had to have a touchdown to keep its season alive and when quarterback Drew Lock saw JSN in single-coverage to Lock's right, that was where the ball was going. The result was a game-winning touchdown.
Smith-Njigba's statistics aren't insane this year. He catches most everything thrown his way as his catch rate is 67.1 percent. By 2024, JSN might be the number 2 option for whoever Seattle's quarterback is, however. He should get close to 1,000 yards next year, if healthy, and like Witherspoon, Seattle will have a fifth-year option on JSN for 2027.