Seahawks receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba feels like a faster version of Doug Baldwin

The rookie receiver has Baldwin's hands and might have a higher ceiling.
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In 2021, Jaxon Smith-Njigba was likely the best receiver in college football. If he could have come out of college that year, he probably should have. Fortunately for the Seattle Seahawks, Smith-Njigba couldn't be drafted until 2023. And possibly oddly, Smith-Njigba missing so much of 2022 due to a hamstring injury actually helped Seattle be able to take him.

But while Smith-Njigba took it a little easy in minicamp - or should I say more correctly, the Seahawks wanted Smith-Njigba to not feel rushed to be on the field every time there was a practice - he definitely appears full-go in training camp. There is no tackling currently, and that could affect things for Smith-Njigba as he no longer will be running free through the secondary, but the way he moves and how crisp he runs routes looks a lot like a former Seahawks great.

That player would be Doug Baldwin, of course. Smith-Njigba is a couple of inches taller than Baldwin and probably about five pounds heavier, but both receivers aren't exactly the size of DK Metcalf. But Baldwin and Smith-Njigba move in much the same way. Baldwin used footwork and quickness to beat his man off the line of scrimmage, and Smith-Njigba has shown the ability in camp to do the same thing.

Seahawks rookie Jaxon Smith-Njigba looks a lot like Doug Baldwin

But another thing they both have in common is their ridiculous ability to catch the football with ease. Baldwin went undrafted out of Stanford in 2011 and made him the top target for former Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson for a number of years. But part of molding himself into a high-quality receiver was that Doug Baldwin had the kind of hands that a football would just stick to them.

Smith-Njigba, of course, has much higher expectations in year one of his career as he was the number 20 pick in the 2023 and the first receiver off the board. He will hopefully make himself into one of the best receivers in the NFL, but he , like Baldwin, can rely on his gift of catching the ball. As he showed on day 2 of training camp on a deep pass, he can simply reach out for the ball and the ball finds him.

But the one thing that could separate Smith-Njigba from Baldwin is Smith-Njigba could be a better downfield threat. Like Jerry Rice, Smith-Njigba appears faster with pads on then he does without. Baldwin was extremely quick off the line and could immediately get open. But Smith-Njigba might have the same gift, but then also be able to get behind his man for deep passes more often.

Of course, Smith-Njigba has one advantage that Baldwin didn't have to start his career. That is that Smith-Njigba won't be the focus of an opposing secondary for at least a couple of years into his career. He has help with DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett and Smith-Njigba is going to see a bunch of one-on-one coverage. With his speed and catching ability, he could surpass 1,000 yards in year one.

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