Jaxon Smith-Njigba might already be making Seahawks fans miss Pete Carroll

One of the final draft decisions former head coach Carroll made was taking JSN.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba of the Seahawks
Jaxon Smith-Njigba of the Seahawks / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

There could be no greater indication of who was truly in charge of the Seattle Seahawks between 2010 and 2023 than what general manager John Schneider chose to do in the 2024 NFL draft. Prior to this year, Seattle had never addressed the trenches in quite the same way as they did in 2024. Former head coach Pete Carroll was also the Vice President of Football Operations and had full control over the Seattle roster.

This means that there is a very good chance that in the first round of the 2023 NFL draft, Seattle might not have chosen wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba at pick 20 overall. Potentially, Schneider would have gone with an offensive or defensive lineman as he did in 2024. The issue is that no matter how much Seattle didn't need a receiver in the 2023 draft, not taking JSN is looking more and more as if that would have been a long-term mistake.

If there was one clear winner at the Seahawks' recent mandatory minicamp, besides new head coach Mike Macdonald who let the players leave one day earlier than expected, it was Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Macdonald raved about JSN saying the receiver was a "great player" and added, "He's had a great offseason, works his tail off. His practice habits are awesome. Moving ability is pretty elite. I think we got a really cool plan for him."

Jaxon Smith-Njigba could be Seattle Seahawks WR2 for several seasons to come

The slow start to his rookie season was due to two different issues. One was that after a good start to training camp and preseason last year, Smith-Njigba broke his wrist in the second preseason game. Some did not expect him back until a few games into the season, but he was back for Week 1. Maybe he rushed back a bit from being hurt, but former offensive coordinator Shane Waldron did not seem prepared for the receiver.

At the beginning of last year, Waldron used JSN on short routes and quick outs. Waldron appeared to want to use Smith-Njigba the same way Dee Eskridge was used, even though JSN had shown in preseason games he could be a threat down the field in the seam. Thankfully, though not soon enough, over the year, Smith-Njigba began to line up outside instead of nearly solely in the slot.

Next. Seahawks urged to go all-in for this QB in 2025. Seahawks urged to go all-in for this QB in 2025. dark

38 of his 63 catches came when Smith-Njigba was lined up outside. More importantly, most of his yards came on those 38 catches. New OC Ryan Grubb is going to find various ways to use Smith-Njigba, but one can bet most of JSN's targets will not come when he is in the slot.

Again, the Seahawks probably would not have even wound up with Smith-Njigba had Pete Carroll not been in charge of Seattle's drafts and the final roster. Carroll made his roster mistakes, of course, but JSN was not one of them. He should be Seattle's WR2 for many years, just behind DK Metcalf as WR1.

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