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The No. 1 WR to go in the 2023 NFL Draft remains a mystery

Who will be the first WR picked in the 2023 NFL Draft?

Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba (11) runs on the sideline after taking a hard hit during the NCAA football game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Ohio Stadium.  Adam Cairns-USA TODAY Sports

There are plenty of wide receiver needy teams out there in the NFL, but the first wide receiver off the board is still very much up in the air. Right now Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba is currently the favorite over at DraftKings Sportsbook at +1600 to be picked Top 10, while the next wide receivers are Zay Flowers, Jordan Addison and Quinten Johnston all at +5000 each. But, reports have the race to first wide receiver off the board as a much closer one.

There is no receiver that just blows the competition away on tape or at the combine. That is why Smith-Njigba is the favorite, as his route running skills and receiving ability are near the top in most evaluations. But there are questions. The Ohio State product ran the majority of his routes from the slot instead of outside in college, which is not usually the resume for an early in the first round pick. He also missed most of last season with a hamstring injury and according to Peter King, that injury has scared off some potential first-round drafters. King writes, “I’m hearing some reticence about taking a guy 12th or 18th in the first round when, in a 4.5-month season, he managed to play the equivalent of one football game with a hamstring injury.”

But, there is also no clear No. 2 receiver in analysts minds either. Flowers has risen during this process, while Addison has stayed strong and Johnston has seen his stock drop a bit. Just from following which way the wind is blowing, Flowers has a real chance to be that first receiver off the board, while Addison appears right up there as well.

All things being equal, Smith-Njigba is still the likely first receiver off the board, but it’s not even close to being set in stone. After the Top 4, there are a few receivers who should get looks in the first round, but look more likely to go in the second or later, as there are a bunch of receiver with similar upside roaming around for Day 2.