Vikings 2023 Draft: Seven-round post-2022 regular season mock draft

(Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images) Eric Gray
(Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images) Eric Gray /
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Minnesota Vikings
Jaxon Smith-Njigba (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

First-Round Pick

Jaxon Smith-Njigba – WR (Ohio State)

The end of the first round provides a tough spot for the Vikings. Many of the top cornerbacks will probably be off the board, and although they have a need at safety, I doubt Kwesi Adofo-Mensah will spend yet another first-round pick on a safety.

The pass rush class is very strong, but without a top guy at this projected pick, the next-best option is Jaxon Smith-Njigba. In terms of general draft boards, Smith-Njigba would be one of the best players available, and he fills a need for this team.

K.J. Osborn has had his moments over the past two years, but I think he is best suited as a third receiver that can eat when defenses focus on others. Adam Thielen clearly is not the same player and cutting his salary is the only logical move from a business standpoint.

Enter Jaxon Smith-Njigba, a dynamic creator after the catch that was a top-10 player before this season started. A hamstring injury lingered throughout the season and kept him off the field for an Ohio State offense that sputtered at times – although their version of sputtering is quite different than most college offenses.

Smith-Njigba has the potential to be a 1,000-yard receiver from the jump, especially if he lines up across from Justin Jefferson as a rookie. The injury sticking around is a big reason for his fall in mock drafts, and while there is some merit there, JSN is worth that sort of risk at the end of the first round.

He is phenomenal after the catch, with more speed than his testing is going to show at the combine. Kirk Cousins entering the season with Justin Jefferson, K.J. Osborn, Jalen Nailor, T.J. Hockenson, and potentially Irv Smith and Jaxon Smith-Njigba, would make for some remarkable offensive football.