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ESPN analyst Todd McShay called out Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba during Tuesday’s NFL Pre-Draft show, saying the oft-injured wide receiver is healthy enough to play in the Buckeyes’ playoff game later this month despite him saying otherwise.
Earlier this week, Smith-Njigba announced he would miss the New Years Eve semifinal game against Georgia due to his nagging hamstring injury, which he suffered Week 1 against Notre Dame.
“(I’d) love to see him play and obviously there are a lot of NFL scouts who would love to see him play,” McShay said. “There are a lot of reports from NFL scouts I’ve talked to who have said he’s healthy enough to play, he’s protecting himself for the draft. I’ve got news for every prospect out there. NFL teams know.
“They know what you’ve had for lunch last Thursday. They’re going to know whether you’re healthy or not. And if you’re healthy enough to play, you need to be out there with your teammates and play.”
Jaxon Smith-Njigba NFL draft stock will be OK despite missing Ohio State playoff game
Smith-Njigba tweeted Monday that he would miss Ohio State’s playoff game after consulting with doctors and will instead turn his focus to the NFL Draft.
“I did everything possible to put myself in a position to get back on the field,” he added.
The junior suffered the injury Week 1, played sparingly in just two other games this year – against Toledo and Iowa – and finished with just five catches for 43 yards.
He entered the season as one of the most coveted NFL prospects after an insane 2021 campaign that saw him break the Big Ten record with 1,606 yards.
Smith-Njigba capped his breakout season with an incredible Rose Bowl performance in which he caught 15 passes for 347 yards and three touchdowns.
Turns out, that would be one of his final college football games – much to the dismay of Todd McShay.
“I’m not saying it’s going to hurt his draft stock – I mean, we saw Derek Stingley last year (with) injuries and opting out and all that and he was still the No. 3 overall pick, but the difference is with Jaxon Smith-Njigba, he is like a late first-, early second-rounder,” he said.
“He’s a great college player, great slot receiver, but he’s had some drops. He doesn’t have exceptional size. He doesn’t have exceptional speed. So, there were some things coming into the year after the great season that scouts were pointing to and said, ‘I’m not sure if he’s going top 15 or top 20,’ so now the fact that he’s not playing is certainly not going to help his stock.”