Ohio State wide receiver Chris Olave is one of the top receiver prospects for the 2022 NFL Draft and he had a solid beginning to his 2021 season. It didn’t start well as Olave drew a false start, but it was clear from the beginning that the Gophers secondary was really struggling to cover Olave.
In the first quarter Olave drew a pass interference deep downfield as the cornerback had to hold Olave to keep him from breaking free to the end zone. Shortly later Olave had a pass thrown behind him by C.J. Stroud, and after reaching back the ball deflected off Olave’s hand for an interception.
At the start of the third quarter Olave made a huge play running across the field before making a leaping grab in zone coverage and then turning down the sideline to dart into the end zone with a touchdown from 38 yards out. To put the game away in the fourth quarter, Olave ran a deep out and after catching the ball he jetted down the sideline setting up blocks to score from 61 yards out. Olave totaled four receptions for 117 yards and two touchdowns.
This game illustrated what makes Olave special. He is quick receiver showing speed through his route with sudden cutting ability to create separation. While Olave is not a big receiver, he is well rounded and has good technique. Olave might be a Calvin Ridley style receiver in the NFL.
Unfortunately, Ohio State cornerback Sevyn Banks did not make the start as he has been nursing an injury. Hopefully Banks returns to the field against Oregon in Week 2 to be tested by Ducks quarterback Anthony Brown and wide receivers Johnny Johnson and Jaylon Redd.
Minnesota right tackle Daniel Faalele is a monster of an offensive tackle with an early-round skill set. The Australian product Faalele checks in at 6-foot-9, 380-pounds and received favorable preseason grades from advance scouts. It was interesting to see how Faalele would play after he opted out of the 2020 season because of the pandemic.
In the second quarter Faalele stood up too high on a third-and-3 run and the defender got underneath his pads to drive Faalele back and make a tackle short of first down yardage. Shortly later though he made up for it on the goal line as he pushed the defensive end to the inside and that helped open a hole for a touchdown run. Faalele helped on another touchdown run in the third quarter tying up his blocker and giving his back time to spring into the open field.
For the NFL, Faalele will have to play right tackle or guard as his feet are too slow for left tackle. In pass protection sometimes Faalele’s feet seem to get stuck in the ground. He has excellent size and length that makes him tough to run around, but Faalele has some limitations in speed, athleticism, and movement.
In the ground game Faalele can be very tough when he plays with good leverage. He can push defenders around and shows strength to tie them up with an ability to manipulate defenders away from the play.
Faalele might need some development to take on NFL speed rushers, but he has the ability to play at the next level and this was a respectable start to the 2021 season.
A player that really helped himself in this game was Minnesota running back Mohamed Ibrahim. The power back was a downhill physical runner that totaled 162 yards on 30 carries with two touchdowns. Unfortunately Ibrahim left the game early with an injury, but this performance will definitely help him as he showed a burst to hit the hole, quality vision, knee bend, and power to run through arm tackles and finish runs well. If Ibrahim runs like this all year he could really rise in the lead up to the 2022 draft.