Ohio State wide receiver Chris Olave set the draft community ablaze after his astonishing 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine. Now, let’s take a look at his 2022 NFL Draft Profile to find out what makes Olave one of the best all-around players available.
Name – Chris Olave
School – Ohio State
Position – Wide Receiver
DOB – June 27, 2000 (21 years old)
Height – 6003
Weight – 187 pounds
Arm Size – 31 1/8″
Hand Size – 9 1/2″
Broad Jump – 10’4”
Vertical Jump – 32”
Bench Press – N/A
Chris Olave grew up in California, attending Mission Hills High School in San Marcos. He was a standout for both the football and track teams. Olave put up ridiculous numbers during his high school career, but didn’t garner as much interest on the recruiting trail as he deserved. The 399th overall ranked recruit was discovered by Ohio State head coach Ryan Day by sheer chance.
Prior to Olave’s senior season, Ryan Day and his staff flew out to the west coast to watch Chris Olave’s high school quarterback — Jack Tuttle. Tuttle asked for Olave to be a part of the workout and the rest is history. It took the Buckeye coaching staff very little time to shift their focus from Tuttle to the smooth-moving wide receiver. In an ironic turn of events, Tuttle ended up elsewhere while Olave became one of the most beloved Ohio State players of the last decade.
Olave started slow as a true freshman in 2018, but he came on strong to end the season. Against rival Michigan, he became an immediate OSU legend by hauling in two touchdowns and even blocking a punt en route to a 23-point victory. The following week — in the Big Ten championship game versus Northwestern — Olave found the end zone yet again. He carried this momentum over to the 2019 and 2020 seasons where he was a favorite target of quarterback Justin Fields. In 20 games across the two seasons, Olave caught a total of 99 passes for 1578 yards. He also brought in one touchdown per game in that span.
Rather than following his quarterback to the NFL, Olave surprised many by opting to return for his senior season in Columbus. In his final collegiate campaign he helped new quarterback CJ Stroud transition from a shaky start to the season, all the way to New York for the Heisman ceremony. The decision was a major benefit to Olave’s development and draft stock, as he posted career highs in catches (65), yards (936), and touchdowns (13) before entering his name into the 2022 NFL Draft.
Now that you are familiar with him, let’s dive in and highlight what Chris Olave does well — and what he must improve on at the next level.
2022 NFL Draft Profile: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
Route Running: Chris Olave, along with his teammate Garrett Wilson, are in a league of their own as route runners in the 2022 NFL Draft. Olave is as technical as they come, creating consistent separation by using his high IQ and natural release off the line of scrimmage to abuse defensive backs in coverage. He does well manipulating the defenders as he’s moving downfield, utilizing his smooth movements and elite body control to shake free. Olave will eat up soft zones at the next level.
Football IQ: Chris Olave started 31 games from 2019-2021. This provides a level of wisdom that can only be attained through on-field experience. He has a knack for finding the sweet spots in the zone, giving his quarterback a chance to make a play each drop back. There were even a few times where Olave could be seen calling out the coverage pre-snap, similar to what quarterbacks do in the NFL.
Athleticism: Olave has legit top end track speed. He not only possesses elite speed, he’s also shifty as a route runner. There are times where it looks like Olave is barely moving because it is so effortless. It’s a lot like a smooth-handling vehicle that doesn’t seem to be moving as fast as it really is. He ran a 4.39 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, which should finally shed the “slow” label that Olave is unfairly given. Once he reaches that top gear, good luck catching him.
Hands: Olave has some of the best hands I’ve evaluated. In fact, he’s never suffered a drop in the end zone at any point in his college career. He is consistently locked in and follows the ball all the way into his hands, rather than letting it travel to his chest. Olave has magnets for hands and will immediately provide a trustworthy target for any quarterback.
Strength: Olave’s major flaw overall is his playing strength due to a slender frame. He is not a major presence in the blocking game, even if he shows a willingness to engage. He is also susceptible to press coverage from the more physical cornerbacks of the NFL. Olave was able to avoid getting taken out of plays by lesser talent, but it remains to be seen if he can produce the same results on Sundays.
Frame: As was just mentioned, Olave doesn’t have an ideal frame. He isn’t big, nor is he tall. Neither of those are required to be successful in the NFL, especially if a receiver possesses the natural skill that Olave has in spades. It is something that can hold him back from being an unquestioned top target for a pro team, though. There’s not a ton of room for him to add much weight to his frame, unless he wants to risk losing some of his athleticism. A minor concern, but a concern nonetheless.
Contested Catch: Piggybacking off of the last two points, Olave is never going to be a “go up and get it” wide receiver. There will be more throws over the middle that require taking a big bump to bring in the pass. His toughness is not to be questioned but it doesn’t always translate into hauling in passes while absorbing a hit. Marvin Harrison made a career out of avoiding the big hits, and I see the same thing when I watch Chris Olave. It is not a perfect player comparison, just a facet of Olave’s game that resembles the Hall of Fame pass catcher. While this keeps him healthy, it also cuts down on his production after the catch.
For my money, Chris Olave lays claim as the best route runner in the 2022 NFL Draft. His prowess as a route runner provides a stable floor, and will allow Olave to come into the league as an impact player from day one. The former track star and Ohio State legend is one of the most kind and respectful prospects off the field, leading me to believe that a team (or multiple teams) will fall head over heels for him at the Combine. He is the smoothest player that I have ever watched, even making his blazing 40-yard dash time look a stroll in the park. Olave doesn’t fit the prototypical image of a No. 1 wide receiver in the NFL, but he’s still going to put up some great numbers. Due to his play style, he is the most likely guy in this class to hold up for a decade-plus. An easy first-round grade for the 2022 NFL Draft.