With his selection, Smith-Njigba became the first receiver to go off the board in this year's draft.
In an interview that aired during the NFL Network's telecast, he thanked Seattle for giving him an opportunity.
"I promise they won't regret it," he said.
A record-setting season as a sophomore in 2021 positioned Smith-Njigba toward the top of teams’ draft boards.
Playing in the slot alongside Wilson and Olave, he caught 95 passes for 1,606 yards and nine touchdowns, surpassing a two-decade-old mark held by Wisconsin’s Lee Evans for the most receiving yards in a season by a Big Ten wideout.
Smith-Njigba’s season last fall was cut short after he hurt his left hamstring in the Buckeyes’ opening win over Notre Dame. The injury was aggravated at later junctures, and he appeared in only three games as result before declaring for the draft in December.
The issue faded in the pre-draft process as he tested well at the scouting combine in February, showing off a high level of agility that has made him a coveted slot receiver among the league’s teams.
He ran the 20-yard shuttle in 3.93 seconds and 3-cone drill in 6.57 seconds, making up the fastest times of all prospects who were in attendance.
It wasn’t until he worked out at pro day at Ohio State in March that he lined up for the 40-yard dash, clocking 4.48 seconds.
The official time didn’t put him among the fastest in this receiver class. Twenty had posted faster times at the combine. But it showed plenty speed to complement his quickness inside.
The prevailing opinion among draft analysts is Smith-Njigba will remain in the slot in the NFL rather than switch spots as Justin Jefferson did following his selection. Jefferson, the reigning Associated Press offensive player of the year, was a slot receiver at LSU before moving to the perimeter with the Minnesota Vikings.
Over his three seasons with the Buckeyes, Smith-Njigba, a native of Rockwall, Texas, played nearly 80% of his snaps on offense while lining up in the slot, according to tracking by Pro Football Focus.
The selections of Wilson and Olave last April ended a 15-year drought without an Ohio State receiver going in the first round.
Wilson went off the board first when he was taken by the New York Jets at No. 10 overall and was named the offensive rookie of the year. Olave fell a pick later to the New Orleans Saints. Both surpassed 1,000 receiving yards as rookies.
Tedd Ginn Jr. and Anthony Gonzalez had been the previous Buckeyes receiver to go in the first round in 2007.
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This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Ohio State receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba taken by Seattle in NFL draft