With the Senior Bowl approaching, mock draft season is upon us. ESPN’s Mel Kiper has his firs mock of the year, and he has the Jets making a somewhat surprising pick at 13th overall.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
I thought about an offensive lineman here, but let’s instead reunite my top-ranked receiver in this class with my top-ranked receiver in the 2022 class. The Jets picked Garrett Wilson at No. 10 last April, and he had 83 catches for 1,103 yards as a rookie. But for the Buckeyes in 2021, it was his teammate Smith-Njigba who was their top wideout, as he put up 1,606 yards, doing damage mostly out of the slot. After an injury-plagued 2022 in which he caught just five passes, however, there are big questions about his health — he had a nagging hamstring injury — headed into the draft. I’m a big fan of Smith-Njigba, and I think he could be a star in the right situation. New York likely will have a new starting quarterback in 2023, and that passer will have to get support around him. This offense has a chance to be much improved. The Jets had a stellar draft last year; Smith-Njigba would be a great start for this one. And yes, I know, this makes back-to-back top-15 picks on receivers for the Jets, but Smith-Njigba is worth it because of what he and Wilson can do together.
The reason I say this is surprising is few would place wide receiver as one of the team’s core needs after Garrett Wilson’s stellar rookie season.
I personally would have no issues with the Jets drafting a receiver in the first round, however. Behind Wilson, the picture is unclear. Elijah Moore had a disastrous second season. Corey Davis is...well Corey Davis. Denzel Mims doesn’t look like he’ll ever be much more than a part-time player and backup.
You build great offenses by loading them with playmakers. Smith-Njigba does come with some significant question marks given the season he just had, but I could not object to a focus on receiver.