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Todd McShay Is Getting Dragged By A Prospect’s Family For Saying He’s Skipping The Playoff To Protect Himself For The 2023 Draft

Jaxon Smith-Njigba is among the top wide receiver prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft. Smith-Njigba managed to put up monster numbers during the 2021 campaign despite playing for an Ohio State team that also had Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave, both of whom were selected in the first round earlier this year, lining up at receiver.

The reason he did not come close to replicating those numbers in 2022 stems from a lingering hamstring issue that limited him to five catches and 43 yards. He got hurt against Notre Dame in the season opener and tried to come back twice, only to aggravate it both times. It’s led to him sitting out of Ohio State’s upcoming College Football Playoff appearance, and according to Todd McShay of ESPN, this is rubbing NFL people the wrong way.

“NFL scouts would love to see him play, and there are a lot of reports from NFL scouts that I’ve talked to that said he’s healthy enough to play, and he’s protecting himself for the Draft,” McShay said. “And I’ve got news for every prospect out there: NFL teams know, they know what you had for lunch last Thursday, they’re gonna know whether you’re healthy or not, and if you’re healthy enough to play, you need to be out there with your teammates playing.”

While McShay said there’s no guarantee this will hurt Smith-Njigba’s stock, he pointed out that there were things scouts wanted to see him do coming into this year. But the implication that the now-former Buckeye is sitting out to protect his position in the Draft did not sit well with his family, as Smith-Njigba’s mother and brother, the latter of whom plays for the Pittsburgh Pirates, expressed their disappointment in McShay.

“I want to be out there competing with my brothers more than anything,” Smith-Njigba told ESPN’s Pete Thamel earlier this week. “The decision to turn pro was made after I was unable to come back on multiple occasions during the season and the doctors determined I would be unable to participate in the playoffs.”

Smith-Njigba caught 95 balls for 1,606 yards and nine touchdowns last season. He had the most productive game in Rose Bowl history during the Buckeyes’ win over the Utah Utes to end the year, as he registered 15 receptions for 347 yards and three scores. Smith-Njigba told Thamel he plans to participate in the NFL Draft Combine, which begins on Feb. 28, 2023.