An early scouting report on LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, currently the unanimous top wide receiver in the 2021 NFL Draft class.
Ja’Marr Chase is returning to LSU for his junior season after winning the Biletnikoff Award in 2019 as the top receiver in the country. He accomplished that with the help of Joe Burrow and fellow receiver Justin Jefferson while improving his own game and stats drastically from his freshman season. As a sophomore, he compiled 1780 yards, an average of 127.1 yards per game and 20 touchdowns.
2019 positive film watched: Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, Alabama
2019 negative film watched: Oklahoma and Texas A&M
Total games analyzed: Six
It is easy to find the positives in Ja’Marr Chase’s game but some stick out more than others.
The first focus is Chase’s ability to find open space against zone defense and in scramble drills. This was put on display multiple times this season especially when he played against Ole Miss and Texas. He was able to work through zone coverage and sit in uncovered areas of the field or find open spots during scramble drills on a consistent basis for Joe Burrow becoming an extremely reliable target.
Next, he has extraordinary hands and catches the ball with ease. He is a natural hand catcher and his ability to come down with contested catches will translate nicely to the NFL where he will see more consistent and tougher defensive backs. He had a drop rate of 5.8 percent, according to CBS sports, which is good for a receiver averaging 14.35 yards per target.
Lastly, he displays an amazing ability to track the deep ball. He is the best deep ball threat in the country and displayed just that all season. Not only is he great at tracking and catching the deep ball he also shows great vision with the ball in his hands and tends to rack up yards after the catch easily.
Finding Ja’Marr Chase’s negatives are easier said than done.
One thing I saw consistently while watching Chase was his lack of help in the run game. During most plays, you don’t see him engage in blocks and he doesn’t even sell the play well. There are games that show up like the Oklahoma game when he will run block but it needs to show up much more often and he needs to show a willingness to do it consistently. I don’t think that this is a problem of size or ability more of mentality and hopefully something we will see change in 2020.
The other problem that shows up on tape is his lack of separation. Too often he has to fight for balls that could be much easier. I expect his offseason to be full of footwork and other drills that will help him get out of breaks quicker and pull away from defenders more easily. In 2019, we saw him use his hands and contested catch ability to beat defenders but in 2020 he will need to show improved separation to solidify himself as the number one receiver in the 2021 NFL Draft.