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NFL Draft

2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: WR Ja’Marr Chase

  • The Draft Network
  • December 19, 2020
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PROSPECT SUMMARY

Ja’Marr Chase was Heisman Trophy Winner and 2020 No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow’s go-to target in LSU’s record-breaking offense in 2019. As a true sophomore, Chase set the single-season SEC record for receiving yards (1,780) and touchdowns (20). When focusing on the 2019 campaign, Chase’s route-running technique, hands, ball skills, post-catch ability, and blocking shined bright in a historic season for Chase and the LSU offense. The challenge forecasting Chase to the next level is we’ve only seen him find success with Burrow and offensive coordinator Joe Brady in 2019 when the environment was ripe to produce. Additionally, while Chase has good size and athleticism, those components aren’t elite traits that would be preferred for a wide receiver prospect selected high in the first round. With that said, his polish shined across those 14 games, where he showcased the makings of a dynamic No. 1 receiver in the NFL that has the skill set needed to produce at all levels of the field. Ideally, Chase would have a larger sample size of production to evaluate, but we’ve seen what he is capable of at his best and that is exciting. 

Ideal Role: Featured Wide Receiver

Scheme Fit: Chase fits all schemes

FILM EVALUATION

Written by Joe Marino 

Games watched: Alabama (2019), Vanderbilt (2019), Ole Miss (2019), Clemson (2019), Georgia (2019), Auburn (2019) 

Best Game Studied: Vanderbilt (2019)

Worst Game Studied: Georgia (2019)

Route Running: Chase is a true route technician with a terrific feel for how to manipulate his defender, attack space, get open and make adjustments on the fly. His footwork is fluid, deceptive, and intentional working in and out of breaks and he runs routes with outstanding tempo. Chase can run a full route tree to all levels of the field with no limitations. 

Hands: Chase did not experience regular issues with drops at LSU. His hands are plucky and he routinely snatches the football away from his frame. Catching the football is natural to him, smoothly, cleanly, effortlessly, and consistently snagging the football in stride.

Separation: While Chase is an excellent route-runner, he is reliant on that technique because he isn’t overly twitchy or bursty to simply run away from coverage. There are plenty of reps where Chase is required to win at a congested catch point where the finish is challenged. Chase is outstanding at adjusting his routes against zone coverage to find space and make himself available to the quarterback.

Release Package: Chase features plenty of variances with his releases, blending hand and footwork with physicality and the ability to reduce his surface area to clear contact. There are instances where his hands need to be deployed quicker to avoid jams and allow the corner to leverage the release and work him to the sideline. His jab steps, head fakes, and body shakes are fluid and timely to create the space needed to get into his route stem on schedule. 

Run After Catch: Chase does well to maximize his receptions by being decisive, physical, shifty, and smooth working after the catch. He generally showcases outstanding vision as a runner while making terrific decisions with well-executed cuts, which enable him to break pursuit angles. While Chase isn’t going to win every foot race, his polish as a ball carrier allows him to be productive creating after the catch. 

Ball Skills: Chase isn’t immune to an occasional misplay of the football, but he overwhelmingly illustrates exceptional ball tracking skills and the ability to make adjustments to the football. He does well to establish his frame at the catch point and it appears the game slows down for him as the ball is arriving. Chase features a strong ability to win in the air and in contested situations.  

Football IQ: Chase’s advanced football IQ was on full display in 2019 while executing an offense that was concept-based and not route-based, relying on sight adjustments where Chase excels. Whether it’s along the sideline or working the middle of the field, Chase has a strong awareness of where he is on the field and where the sticks are. Chase’s nuanced routes and technical-refinement as a runner speaks to his understanding of the game.   

Versatility: Chase has the route-running technique, post-catch ability, and ball skills to win at every level of the field. At LSU, Chase was not tasked with return duties or work on special teams. His ability to block and being a three-level threat presents zero limitations to the offensive scheme. Chase can work either out wide or from the slot. 

Competitive Toughness: Everything that Chase does on the football field is done like an alpha. He is mostly unfazed by contact during his route stems, at the top of routes, during the release, and at the catch point. He hunts as a blocker, always searching for opportunities to spring his teammates for extra yardage. 

Big-Play Ability: Averaging 21.2 yards per catch on 84 receptions with 20 receiving touchdowns during the 2019 season tells the story of how Chase can produce big plays. He knows how to get loose vertically and produce after the catch. While Chase is a good athlete, he doesn’t have elite play speed, which could present some challenges at the next level replicating the consistent big-play production he was able to achieve in college.  

Prospect Comparison: Roddy White (2005 NFL Draft, Atlanta Falcons)

SCOUT GRADES

TDN Consensus: 88.38/100

Joe Marino: 90.00/100

Kyle Crabbs: 87.50/100

Jordan Reid: 89.00/100

Drae Harris: 87.00/100

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