Bears Draft Target: WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba
Joshua Bickel - USA Today Sports

Bears Draft Target: WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba

by - Senior Writer -

Over the past several years, there has been a growing pattern in the NFL landscape. Not only have teams been drafting young QBs to lead their franchise, but they try to pair them with a WR they played with in college in hopes the connection is still there.

You saw it when the Dolphins drafted Tua and added Jaylen Waddle a year later. You see it with Joe Burrow and Jamar Chase, who have an unbreakable connection. Given Garrett Wilson's success as a rookie this season and Chris Olave, it would have been nice to give Justin Fields one of those two guys.

However, there is another WR that the Bears could target, and despite not playing with Fields he is an OSU product meaning the system could still be the same. Ohio State WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba is one of the top-rated WRs in this class and is expected to be a mid-first-round selection. Given the current state of the Bears passing attack, he would be worth looking into, even if it means moving a few pieces around.

Not only is Njigba just 20 years old, but at 6-1 and 200 pounds, he is the perfect size to play in the NFL and a player the Bears could build their offense around. Njigba had a breakout campaign as a freshman in 2021, where he hauled in nearly 1700 yards receiving and 10 scores. Fast forward to this season, and Njigba was trapped in a season-long nightmare as he was limited to just a handful of games due to a hamstring injury and had just 43 yards receiving.

Injury aside, there is a ton of hype surrounding Njigba; otherwise, there is no way he would be rated as high as he is. Like most good receivers nowadays, Njigba is a great route runner and uses a flawless technique to open. Perhaps the best attribute he brings to the table is that he is a QBs best friend.

What that means is simple. When a play breaks down, Njigba does an excellent job of finding ways to get open and giving his QB a target. Considering the way Fields plays and how bad the Bears offensive line has been, that is something the WR room could use in Chicago. He is also known to be an excellent blocking WR which pairs perfectly with a Bears team that led the NFL in rushing a season ago.

Apart from the injury, Njigba will have to show he can play outside, as he has played only in the slot position in college. That was primarily due to Olave, Wilson, and Marvin Harrison Jr lining up on the outside over the past few years, so he had to take what he could if he wanted to see the field.

Even so, Njigba is the counter opposite of what most slot receivers possess, as he has below-average speed. Couple that with only one year of college production due to the injury, and taking Njigba comes with significant risk and a high reward. As mentioned above, the Bears need a ton of help at the WR position and realistically need a WR 1.

Njigba will not be that for you, but he will be a valuable asset to plug into the slot position. That will allow Chase Claypool and Darnell Mooney to stay on the outside as Mooney looks to bounce back from a rough season. Njigba is the perfect fit for a team that needs an immediate impact from a slot receiver, but unfortunately, that fit is not in Chicago.

The Bears need a true outside WR, and unless Smith can prove he can be more of an outside threat, the pick doesn't make a ton of sense. The only way I could see it happening would be a belief from within the organization that he could turn into an outside threat. Even if that were true, Chicago may be looking at a situation where Njigba starts to fall in the first round, thus making it easier for the Bears to trade back into the first round and try to nab him.

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