Bears’ top 2023 draft prospects: WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba (No. 14)
After finishing the 2022 season with a 3-14 record, the Chicago Bears have the No.1 pick in the NFL draft, in addition to seven other selections. Also, Chicago will likely take advantage of the opportunity to trade back, accumulating more picks in this year’s draft.
Over the next few weeks, we’re counting down our top 15 draft prospects for the Bears with scouting reports for each, the team’s need for their position, and the likelihood the Bears draft them.
Next up at No. 14 is Ohio State wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba. There’s plenty of hype around “JSN.” He put up video game numbers in the 2022 Rose Bowl (347 yards receiving and three touchdowns), and his former teammates both had 1,000+ yards receiving in their rookie seasons. But, the lack of speed and experience at the outside receiver positions make him more of a WR2 than a WR1.
Adam Cairns-USA TODAY Sports
School: Ohio State
Measurables: 6’1″, 200 pounds
Adam Cairns-The Columbus Dispatch
Career: 110 receptions, 1,698 yards, 10 touchdowns
2022: 5 receptions, 43 yards (only played three games due to hamstring injury)
USA Today Sports
Excellent route runner. He can use his technique and size to beat most smaller slot defenders.
Quarterback friendly; when plays break down, he does an excellent job of getting open and helping the QB get out of trouble.
He is a willing blocker who will participate in the run game.
Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
He only played slot receiver at OSU. Chris Olave (Saints), Garrett Wilson (Jets), and Marvin Harrison Jr. played the outside receiver positions.
He lacks elite speed. Coming out of high school, he ran a 4.6 40-yard dash. His game is built on quickness, not speed.
Due to a lack of playing time and injury, he only has one year of college production.
Team position need: High
Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
The Bears desperately need a WR1 after having the worst passing offense in the NFL. Despite the team’s efforts to find an elite outside receiver, none have emerged as a true WR1. In addition, Chicago has five wide receivers hitting free agency in the next two years. They need depth and young talent on rookie contracts.
Likelihood Bears draft him: 5/10
Syndication The Columbus Dispatch
Smith-Njigba is the perfect fit for a team that needs an immediate impact from a slot receiver. But, unfortunately, that team isn’t the Bears. Instead, Chicago needs an elite outside threat who will take attention away from players like Darnell Mooney and Chase Claypool.
Chicago could draft Smith-Njigba with the hope that he develops into that elite outside receiver. However, drafting him in the first round is a significant risk, given his lack of experience and speed.
Bears' top 2023 draft prospects
We’re counting down our top 15 draft prospects for the Bears in 2023. Check back every other day.
14. WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba
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