2021 NFL Draft Profile: WR Ja’Marr Chase
The NFL appears to be moving further away from the prototypical WR1’s that have dominated the league for so long. Players like Calvin Johnson, AJ Green, Julio Jones, etc., have had dominant careers because of their ability to win with their size and contested catch proficiencies, but NFL teams aren’t seemingly looking for that type of impact much anymore. We’re seeing players like Tyreek Hill, Stefon Diggs, Justin Jefferson, etc., establish themselves as WR1’s on their roster through route-running savvy and athleticism.
While the prototype might look different nowadays, the need for a true “Alpha WR” is still prevalent on every roster across the NFL. From day one, Ja’Marr Chase is going to provide that type of impact in the league.
Chase sat out the 2020 CFB season, but the impact that he has had when he’s been on the field cannot be overstated. In 2019, Chase was the recipient of the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s best receiver. He put up absurd numbers with Joe Burrow despite being in a very crowded offense with future pros like Jefferson, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, and Terrace Marshall.
There’s a very strong possibility that Chase is off the board within the first 15 picks of the 2021 NFL Draft, and whatever team selects him is going to view him as their true WR1 as soon as he steps onto the field. How exactly does Chase’s game translate to the next level, though? Can he be a top-tier fantasy contributor right away?
These questions are answered here in our scouting profile on Ja’Marr Chase:
Ja’Marr Chase, LSU
Weight: 208 lbs.
Arms: 30 3/4
Hands: 9 5/8
40-Yard Dash: 4.38
Vertical Jump: 41
Broad Jump: 132
Bench: 23 Reps
Short Shuttle: 3.98
3-Cone Drill: 7.00
Skills Breakdown (out of 100)
Route Running (78): Chase is a smooth and fluid athlete that uses his fantastic body control to his advantage in and out of breaks. He’s a diverse route-runner and was utilized all over the formation at LSU, sometimes even in the backfield. Able to be used as a three-level threat and has a good understanding of how to create separation at the top of his routes.
Athleticism/Agility (78): Great athlete for his size. Plays much bigger than he’s listed, but his overall athleticism jumps off the screen play after play. Would be beneficial to see a little bit more burst and acceleration off the line of scrimmage to take advantage of the physicality in his release and to get on top of the defender, but that’s a super small area of concern. Great athlete.
Hands (81): Good hands when in uncontested situations. Shows great hand-eye coordination and a natural ability to pluck the ball out of the air. Could stand to improve at attacking the football and bringing it in at the point of contact, but this is a minor thing that can be ironed out at the next level.
Contested Catch Ability (80): Excellent in contested catch situations. Plays like he’s 6’4 and has an alpha mentality when the ball is in the air. Able to go up and highpoint the football well. Also is consistently hand fighting going deep downfield to keep his frame clean. It’s a small nuance to playing the position, but Chase is truly working hard every single second of every route to put himself in the best position to make a play on the ball.
Run After Catch Ability (80): Possesses great RAC ability for a player of his size. Able to take the ball in stride and pick up chunk gains. Shouldn’t be classified as a burner but does have another element to his game that not many players with his skillset possess.
Release (86): Physical and tough at the LOS. Great understanding of how to utilize leverage to create separation in small windows, but then also has the pure strength to bully defenders if they come up and press him. Demonstrates an excellent understanding of this at such a young age too, which is an indication that he can only get better as he adjusts to the NFL game.
Deep Ball Tracking (80): Excellent at tracking the ball while it’s in the air deep downfield and shows a high proficiency for being able to adjust to put himself in the best position to make a play. Several back shoulder receptions on his 2019 tape are proof of this skill.
Speed (80): Able to threaten defenses in a variety of ways and will keep defenders on their heels with his speed. Has the size to be physical with smaller corners but then also has the speed to blow past them if he needs to. Shows the ability to kick it into another gear when he’s in the open field too, which will only help him if he does break free at the second or third level of the field.
— Kyle Yates (@KyleYNFL) January 5, 2021
Can’t Guard Him
Ja’Marr Chase is putting up the numbers to back it up ???? pic.twitter.com/fMJfBknY59
— LSU Football (@LSUfootball) November 26, 2019
They Said It
Projected Draft Range
Chase is in the discussion as one of the best WRs in this entire draft. Based on his talent level and how he appears to be viewed across the league, it’s safe to say that Chase should be off the board within the top-15 picks.
Ideal Fantasy Landing Spot
Based on his projected draft range, there are plenty of teams that could use a player like Chase’s talents. While the Bengals are unlikely to invest in a WR at the top of the draft, Chase being reunited with Joe Burrow would be his ideal landing spot for fantasy football. He would easily be viewed as a top-40 WR redraft selection for 2021, and he could potentially find himself going even higher than that if he ends up in Cincinnati.
There are plenty of comparisons out there for Chase, and they’re all very different. The comparisons range from A.J. Brown to Julio Jones to Antonio Brown, but when scouting Chase, there was a player that jumped off the screen stylistically. Marvin Jones. Jones and Chase are around about an inch different in height but nearly identical in weight. Both play much larger than their size, both have an incredible ability to adjust to the ball while it’s in the air, and both are very physical at the LOS. Chase has an extra gear out in the open field that Jones doesn’t, but they’re going to win in very similar ways in the NFL. Comparisons should be based on what type of role the player is going to fill at the next level and not based on what their potential impact could be. Chase should fill a very similar role to Jones at the next level, and it’s up to him to determine the type of impact that he can have.