Ja'Marr Chase didn't play last fall but he's still expected to be the first wide receiver taken in the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft. His game film from 2019, when he won the Fred Biletnikoff Award as the nation's best wide receiver as a key member of LSU's undefeated, national championship-winning team, is all teams need to see and also the reason why he won't be waiting long to hear his name called when the first round begins on April 29.
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Ja'Marr Chase Draft Profile
Chase is a maestro, with the kind of feel for creating separation — and creating yardage after the catch — that cannot be taught. He fully grasps how to leverage defensive backs, and his smooth, fluid athleticism, stop-start ability and overall quickness allow him to gain separation underneath with ease. Downfield, he plays much faster than his timed speed. He’ll accelerate to top speed quickly and maintain it on nine routes, and when the ball is in the air, he flashes a third gear to chase it down and leave defensive backs behind. While he doesn’t have elite size for the position, his huge catch radius suggests otherwise: He has an uncanny knack for adjusting to an off-target throw underneath without having to gear down, allowing him to create yards after the catch. Combined with his elite play strength and competitiveness, both when coming off the line of scrimmage or with the ball in his hands, he’s a serious threat on short and intermediate routes.
If you want to go beyond the tape, Chase’s height/speed combination is ordinary, and maybe there are some teams that can’t get past that. His record-breaking production in 2019 was at least partially a result of playing with a historically great quarterback in Joe Burrow, and he opted out of the 2020 season.
Chase is a playmaker at all three levels, and he has the ability to line up at any spot, from X-iso to the slot. While his size/speed combination might not be elite on paper, his overall athletic profile is — especially when it comes to body control, acceleration and play strength. He’s a true No. 1 receiver with a chance to be one of the top five players at the position for the next decade.
Final Grade: Top-10 pick
(Top photo bu Gus Stark/LSU Athletics)