By 750 THE GAME STAFF
After going defense with their first selection in the first round, the Seattle Seahawks turned to the offensive side of the ball for their pick at No. 20 overall.
Ohio State wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba is coming to Seattle.
Smith-Njigba was the first receiver taken in the 2023 NFL Draft, starting a string of four straight receivers going off the board, something that had never happened in the modern era of the draft. TCU’s Quentin Johnson went with the next pick to the Chargers, followed by Boston College’s Zay Flowers to the Ravens and USC’s Jordan Addison to the Vikings.
“Super excited, blessed,” Smith-Njigba told NFL Network’s Melissa Stark after he was taken by Seattle. “I’ve been dreaming about this moment. I just want to thank the Seahawks for giving me this opportunity. I promise they won’t regret it.”
Smith-Njigba battled a hamstring injury that limited him to just three games for the Buckeyes in 2022. He missed the team’s final six games of the season, including their College Football Playoff semifinal loss to eventual national champion Georgia.
The previous 2021 season, Smith-Njigba shared the wide receiver room with future first-round picks Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave, but still found a way to raise eyebrows with his production. In the Rose Bowl, Smith-Njigba set a game record with 347 receiving yards on 15 receptions, scoring three touchdowns, helping Ohio State beat Utah 48-45.
Earlier that season, in Ohio State’s week two upset loss to the Oregon Ducks, Smith-Njigba had 7 catches for 145 yards and two touchdowns in what was freshman C.J. Stroud’s first home game as starting quarterback. Stroud was selected No. 2 overall by the Houston Texans in Thursday’s NFL Draft.
Smith-Njigba is not known for his speed, but his ability to run routes and beat coverage from the slot, in particular, made him too hard to pass up in the first round. He joins a receiving room in Seattle that boasts D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, a rushing attack led by second-year standout Kenneth Walker III, and a quarterback in Geno Smith who earned a 3-year $105-Million contract in the offseason.
The Seahawks are in line to make two selections in Friday’s second round, No. 37 and No. 52 overall, as the draft currently stands. They’ll also make a selection at No. 82 in the third round later on Friday.