Smith-Njigba feels 100% after injury-marred ’22


INDIANAPOLIS — Former Ohio State wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba says he is fully healed from the hamstring injury that kept him out for most of last season, and he intends to participate in all drills at the NFL scouting combine except for the 40-yard dash.

“I’m ready to go out and attack and show my skill set,” Smith-Njigba said Friday. “I was 100 percent as of two weeks ago. I’m taking things slowly to close the book on this nagging injury, which I feel like I have. But I just haven’t had enough reps on the 40 yet, so pro day you’ll see me run.”

NFL teams had hoped to see Smith-Njigba run the 40 in Indianapolis to compare him against the rest of the top wide receivers in 2023. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. ranks Smith-Njigba as the No. 2 wideout in the class, behind Zay Flowers (Boston College), while Todd McShay has him at No. 3, behind Quentin Johnston (TCU) and Jordan Addison (USC).

Smith-Njigba is undergoing medical testing at the combine, with coaches and front-office executives monitoring the results on the hamstring injury that limited him in 2022. Those results won’t be made public.

The hamstring injury occurred early in Ohio State’s season opener against Notre Dame, and Smith-Njigba went on to play in parts of two more games, finishing the season with five receptions for 43 yards while running a total of 42 receiving routes.

Entering 2022, Smith-Njigba had been projected as one of the top wide receivers in the country. Expectations were high after Smith-Njigba’s stellar Rose Bowl performance in which he caught 15 passes for 347 yards and three touchdowns that put an exclamation point on a 2021 season in which he set a Big Ten record with 1,606 yards.

But after a frustrating junior year, Smith-Njigba intends to show that he is the best receiver in this year’s draft.

“I just think my playmaking ability is second to none in this draft,” he said. “From playing basketball [as a kid], I feel like my creativity is what sets me apart also. Being able to create and react to the defender is the strong point in my game, and taking advantage of that. I just try to use all those qualities and get the job done.”

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