Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the Dallas Cowboys have a need at wide receiver. Yes, CeeDee Lamb was really good this season, but the rest of the corps was a combination of a MASH unit and whomever was hanging around in the parking lot.
I joke, but once the Dallas Cowboys traded Amari Cooper, and decided to replace him with James Washington and rookie Jalen Tolbert (Washington was cut and Tolbert couldn’t get on the field), there was concern. Part of the concern was Michael Gallup was recovering from injury and would not play early in the season. As we all saw, none of this went according to plan.
Now that the 2023 offseason is starting, the Cowboys will need to figure out how to give more viable weapons to Dak Prescott, or they could find themselves struggling to pass next year.
Granted Gallup will have a full offseason to actually recover, but no one knows if he will return to form. While there are decisions to be made about Noah Brown and T.Y. Hilton, there should be no way they enter 2023 without retooling the position. Enter Jaxon Smith-Njigba.
The Dallas Cowboys have a need at wide receiver to help Dak Prescott and CeeDee Lamb, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba is a name to be following.
One of the things we saw this season was a lack of speed and technical route running. While Smith-Njigba doesn’t have the game changing speed, he makes up for in route running, hands, and savvy. After a monster 2021, 2022 was supposed to be where JSN cemented his place as one of the top wide receivers in this class. An injury derailed that and should teams allow him to fall, the Dallas Cowboys are in a spot to take advantage.
JSN is a very savvy route runner who knows how to sell a route, find a soft spot in a zone, and is one of the smartest players in the draft at the position. He has innate control of his body which allows him to create separation and make difficult catches if necessary.
His footwork is closely followed by his spatial awareness in some of the things to be excited about. He can get off press (although needs more reps) and finds ways to use leverage to get himself square with the quarterback and knows where he and the ball are supposed to be.
While JSN’s route running is elite, his top speed is not. He does help make up for the lack of speed with everything else, but it he is not going to beat many corners in a flat out footrace. Ohio State moved him around a lot and used a ton of motion for him to allow him to work in space and create the separation. He could find himself in a system that doesn’t use motion and it would limit what he can bring. He may need more work from the slot in his first year while he gets used to the change in competition from college to the NFL.
Smith-Njigba is the kind of route runner that Amari Cooper was. This forced teams to have to account for him and allowed Lamb and Gallup to get man-to-man coverage or in space where a safety had vacated. If he can adapt quickly to being on the outside, he will be a help to any offense. He may step in and be the best route runner on the team from day one, but the questions about health and usage will be one teams will question. He is a very real option in the first round should he fall.