2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Ja'Marr Chase
By Charlie Campbell
Summary: Coming out of high school Chase was a top recruit and it looked like he was going to head to Florida before a coaching change led to Chase landing with LSU instead of the Gators. In his first season with the Tigers, Chase was part of a rotation and the LSU passing attack was not the point machine it became a year later. Chase had 23 catches for 313 yards with three scores in his debut, but then he exploded as a junior.
As a sophomore Chase was the most dominant receiver in college football as he destroyed the SEC and was the No.1 wide out for Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Joe Burrow. Chase averaged 21.2 yards per reception over 84 catches for 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns. His dominance helped other LSU receivers and tight ends to produce big seasons as well. LSU had a dream season going undefeated and winning a National Championship with Chase being an integral player to the Tigers success. One could make the argument that Chase was the best player on LSU's team. Rather than play with a depleted roster, Chase decided to sit out the 2020 season.
While Joe Burrow had an incredible 2019 season and played extremely well, he had an amazing supporting cast with an excellent set of wide receivers, a first-round running back, and an experienced and talented offensive line. Of that amazing supporting cast, Chase was the best player and you could make an argument that Chase was the best pure football player on LSU's team in 2019 as he was electric. He made a ton of big plays for Burrow taking short catches for big gains and being a bail out receiver to get open and move the chains when everything else was breaking down. Chase has the skill set and ability of a future No.1 receiver in the NFL.
The first thing that stands out about Chase is his speed and ability to separate. Chase has a burst off the line with sudden explosive speed to quickly generate separation from cornerbacks. Chase is fast through his routes and defensive backs have a near impossible task of running with him. Even top cornerbacks like Florida's C.J. Henderson had some struggles to keep Chase from getting open. With his deep speed, Chase is a deep threat that can take the top off of a defense. He regularly burns a secondary running a go route down the sideline or a slant across the field. In the NFL, Chase is going to command safety help over the top. Chase is a fast receiver similar to a Calvin Ridley or Jerry Jeudy, but he may not have the top shelf speed to kill the combine 40-yard dash like a Henry Ruggs, John Ross, or Will Fuller. Chase's 40 will probably be very good but it may not be record setting. Heading into his junior year, Chase looks like a better prospect than any of those players.
On top of off-game breaking speed, Chase is a quality route-runner and he is sudden in out of his breaks. Being fast and sudden translates to Chase being a dangerous yards after the catch weapon. He is elusive in the open field with good moves to dodge tacklers and vision to see openings for longer gains.
Other parts of Chase's technique as a receiver are impressive. He high points the ball well and does a nice job on 50-50 passes even though he is not a receiver with mismatch height. With late hands Chase does a good job of securing passes and is a reliable, natural hands catcher. He tracks the ball extremely well and it looks almost impossible to overthrow him.
In speaking to some team sources, they say that Chase's build is thicker than Jerry Jeudy or Calvin Ridley. So while he is not daunting from a size perspective, Chase is not undersized for the next level. Quickly in his NFL career, Chase could be an impact No.1 receiver that is the engine of a dangerous passing attack.
Player Comparison: Amari Cooper. Sources from multiple teams think Chase could be a better version of Amari Cooper for the NFL.
From Chase's listed numbers (6-1, 200), some might think that he has a lean build similar to Jerry Jeudy or Calvin Ridley, but multiple team sources who have seen Chase in person say he is put together well.
"Ridley and Jeudy were/are very thin and wiry," said one director of college scouting. "Chase some density and sturdiness to him. He is obviously stronger."
That director and some other scouts feel Chase is closer to Amari Cooper in terms of build. "He's closer to Amari, but Chase is a better athlete than Cooper." They felt that Chase could end up being a better version of Cooper as a pro.
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