One of the brightest stars in college football during the 2019 season was LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase. On his way to helping LSU win the National Championship, Chase set several SEC records, including touchdown receptions with 20 and receiving yards with 1,780.
His strong 2019 season allowed him to win the Biletnikoff Award and be just the 11th player in LSU history to become a unanimous All-American. Now the question becomes how well does his game transfer to the NFL and is he worth a top-five pick in the 2021 NFL Draft?
The first trait working in his favor is how well Ja’Marr Chase is able to gain separation at the catch point. He wins this separation in a couple of ways with the first one being his excellent route-running ability. He does a good job of breaking down on his routes and getting in and out of his cuts quickly. Another way he wins this separation is that he has excellent hand usage, which allows him to get the defender off of him.
Ja’Marr Chase shows the hands to excel in the NFL as well. He does a great job of extending his arms to snag the ball out of the air. He also displays extremely strong hands to snag the ball out of the air, which allows him to consistently come down with any ball thrown into coverage. One other area he excels at is when it comes to making the reception is how well he tracks the ball, especially when it comes to the deep ball.
In addition to these skills, Chase is also dangerous after the reception. Despite lacking great speed, he is a player who can pick up yards after the catch with his physical running style. This increases his value as he is a player who can make plays after the catch or be a downfield receiving threat.
In terms of negatives, my first question revolves around him being a complete wide receiver. This is a concern as Chase is not the greatest blocker and at times seems to have no interest in doing it. This lack of interest in the run game is a concern to me as most long runs are a result of great blocking downfield by wide receivers. It also shows a me-first personality which is concerning for a variety of reasons.
The other concern is that he is only an average athlete. He is not the biggest receiver in the 2021 NFL Draft, coming in at only 6-foot-1. He also lacks the blazing speed you will see from someone like Rondale Moore. This lack of great physical skills will give some concern about him having the ability to become one of the best receivers in the NFL.
When predicting how Chase will translate to the NFL, I see someone who will be a very good but not elite receiver in the NFL. I think he lacks the elite traits including speed and size that will prevent him from being anything more than just a good NFL receiver.
If I were running a team, I would not spend a top-five pick on a wide receiver, unless I thought he had Hall of Fame potential, which I don’t think Chase has. To put it simply, I would have a hard time using a top-five pick on Ja’Marr Chase in the 2021 NFL Draft. He is a good player but his ceiling at the next level is relatively limited.