Ja'Marr Chase - WR - LSU
Ja’Marr Chase was a one year wonder in college putting on a spectacular sophomore campaign, making an interesting rookie profile for the 2021 Draft. Fans unfortunately didn’t get to see him continue his dominance as a junior as he opted out for the entirety of the season. Despite not playing a snap of his junior year and declaring early, he was still the first wide receiver off the board during the 2021 NFL Draft.
Team: Cincinnati Bengals
Height: 6′ 0″
Weight: 201 lbs
40-yard dash: 4.38
3-cone drill: 7.00
20-yard shuttle: 3.98
Vertical Jump: 41″
Broad Jump: 132″
Bench Press: 23
|College DOM||College YPR||College Target %||Breakout Age|
As a true freshman, Chase had a solid year in 2018. He was third on the team in receiving yards and tied for second in receptions (23 receptions for 313 yards). This was transfer quarterback Joe Burrow’s first year at LSU. The offense really clicked in 2019 for a historic college football season. That year, Chase led the team in receiving yards and touchdowns with 1780 yards and 20 touchdowns. He outperformed both Justin Jefferson and Terrace Marshall, attributing to a large percentage for Joe Burrow’s 5600 passing yards and 60 touchdowns. Chase was a big part of LSU’s title run and eventual championship in 2019. On top of the CFP National Championship he also won the Biletnikoff Award (best wide receiver), Unanimous All-American and First-team All-SEC honors.
Going into the 2020 season, everyone was excited to see Chase continue his dominance over the college football landscape. With Jefferson gone to the NFL, it was Chase and Marshall as the one-two punch for the LSU offense. But with COVID and the regulations around the season, Chase decided to opt out and focus on preparing for the NFL draft. He tested well at his pro-day scoring an 86th percentile Speed Score, 97th percentile Burst Score, and an 82 percentile Agility Score per playerprofiler. Also, he ran a very impressive 4.38 40 yard dash at 6’0” and 201 lbs.
Ja’Marr Chase is an incredibly physical wide receiver on the outside. He profiles as a true alpha at the next level. His ability to make the contested catch and fight through contact at the catch point is potentially the best in the class. Additionally, he shows an elite ability to high point the ball over defenders and attack the ball before the defender can get there. His catch radius will be a weapon at the next level allowing his quarterback to put the ball out of reach of everyone except Chase. He also showed on tape that he can make just about any catch on the field whether that is a sideline toe tap, over the shoulder ball tracking, or just working back to the ball and catching with secure hands.
While Chase isn’t as shifty as some other wide receivers in this class in the open field, his physicality more than makes up for it. He can follow blockers set up in front of him, but also consistently breaks tackles and shows off running back like contact balance to fight for additional yards. When it comes to route running, Chase has a solid release. Defenders liked to play up close to him at the line of scrimmage and he made them pay with his ability to get off the line. Even as a predominately physical wide receiver, he shows a nice ability to create separation by creating inside or outside leverage. Once he gains that leverage on a defender, his size and physicality prevents the defender from being able to make a good play on the ball.
When it comes to negatives for the top prospects in this class, one has to be very critical. For Chase he would occasionally take plays off when the ball wasn’t going his way. His blocking could be improved as he is such a physical player but doesn’t utilize that physicality to block for his teammates. Route running isn’t necessarily a weakness for Chase, but an area where he could improve to be next level elite in the NFL. Finally, there was the occasional drop or two over the middle. Not enough to worry much, but also something he will have to clean up.
Post Draft Analysis
Cincinnati Bengals: Round 1, Pick 5
The Cincinnati Bengals made Ja’Marr Chase the first wide receiver off the board in the 2021 draft with the fifth pick in the first round. With this pick, Chase is reunited with his former college quarterback Joe Burrow. The fit with the Bengals is a good one as Chase won’t be relied on as the sole offensive piece on the team, but walks into immediate opportunities on the field as a day one starter. He will have two already established wide receivers to play alongside with Tyler Boyd in the slot and Tee Higgins opposite Chase on the outside. Plus veteran running back Joe Mixon to keep defenses honoring the ground game.
Chase profiles as a prototypical alpha wide receiver and with the selection this early in the first round, that is exactly what the Bengals expect Chase to become. The Bengals surrounded their franchise quarterback with plenty of offensive weapons, the only concern is whether they can keep him upright with the improvements they made later in the draft at the offensive line. As long as Burrow returns to full health, this offense looks like a force to be reckoned with.
The Bengals selecting Chase with the fifth overall pick made it clear that they want Chase to be the guy for Joe Burrow. Unfortunately for fantasy, the offense has a lot of mouths to feed with established players in Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins, and Joe Mixon all vying for touches. He has the potential and draft pedigree to take over the offense and become that bonafide alpha wide receiver, but it’s hard to expect that from a rookie wide receiver. For redraft leagues, it will be hard to count on Ja’Marr Chase recreating what his former teammate Justin Jefferson accomplished last year. He could be worth a late round flyer for his potential, but with the draft capital invested, it would be surprising if he made it that far. But for dynasty leagues, Chase should be one of the top pass catchers taken in rookie drafts. Dynasty managers can wait a year for Chase to really get acclimated to the offense and hit his stride with Joe Burrow. If you’re lucky enough to lock him up in rookie drafts, he’ll provide high-end wide receiver one potential for years to come on your dynasty team.
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Image Credit: Mark J. Rebilas – USA TODAY Sports