While Smith-Njigba could have answered questions about his speed by running the 40-yard dash on Saturday, the record-setting Buckeye pass-catcher has decided not to run the 40 in Indianapolis. He will do “everything but the 40,” he said Friday during his interview session at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Smith-Njigba’s decision not to run the 40 comes after he missed nearly his entire final season at Ohio State due to a hamstring injury he suffered in the Buckeyes’ season opener against Notre Dame. While Smith-Njigba will still participate in pass-catching workouts and do other drills at the combine, he decided it was best not to run a 40 for NFL scouts just yet, saving that drill for Ohio State’s pro day on March 22.
Smith-Njigba said he has only felt 100% healthy for the last two to three weeks, so he hasn’t had a lot of time to train running the 40-yard dash yet.
“I’m 100%. I feel good. I’m ready to go out here and attack and show my skill set,” Smith-Njigba said. “I would say that I was 100% maybe like two weeks ago, just trying to take things very slowly, so I can close this book on this nagging hamstring. Just wanting to take it slow, you know, so we can close the book, which I feel like I have. But just haven’t had enough reps in the 40 just yet. So pro day, you’ll see me.”
Despite playing in only three games and catching just five passes for 43 yards in his final season as a Buckeye, Smith-Njigba is still widely projected to be Ohio State’s third first-round wide receiver in a two-year span thanks to his record-breaking 2021 season in which he caught 95 passes for 1,606 yards, both the highest single-season marks in OSU history. His elite combination of route-running ability, quickness and hands give him the potential to quickly become one of the NFL’s best slot receivers.
In order to fully answer questions about his speed and his health, Smith-Njigba will need to run the 40, which won’t happen for a few more weeks. When he does, though, Smith-Njigba expects to put those questions to rest.
“I think it’s a little disrespectful,” Smith-Njigba said of people questioning his speed. “But I’m ready to showcase that, definitely. Wish I could do it here and get it over with but you know, it’s fine. We’ll take more time and surprise a lot of people, I guess, at pro day.”
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