Before the 2020 season, Ja’Marr Chase was the obvious choice as the best wide receiver in the 2021 NFL Draft. But after he sat out the 2020 season, is that still the case?
Chase stepped right onto the field as a true freshman at LSU in 2018, starting seven games and hauling in 23 receptions. However, it was his sophomore season when he made it clear he was an elite receiver. Chase caught 84 of Joe Burrow’s passes for 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns while helping the Bayou Bengals win the national championship. He was a unanimous All-American and won the Biletnikoff Award. However, Chase used the ongoing pandemic as an excuse to opt-out of the 2020 season, ending his college career after just two seasons.
During his two years at LSU, Chase showcased a well-rounded skill set. He has strong hands, runs quality routes, and can make plays after the catch. He’s also proven himself to be a willing blocker. His production obviously speaks for itself, but Chase also has all of the necessary tools to be a productive and consistent NFL wide receiver.
The obvious drawback with Chase is that he ended his college career early. We only saw him in the spotlight for one season, and that was while playing on a historically productive offense in which a lot of wide receivers would have excelled. At 6’1’’ and 208 pounds, Chase doesn’t have standout size. Also, while he has a well-rounded skill set, his athleticism doesn’t leap off the page compared to elite NFL receivers.
There remains a good chance that Chase will be the first wide receiver selected in the draft, possibly in the top-5. He does too many things well not to be a long-time starter in the NFL. However, since we only saw him for a limited time, it’s fair to question whether or not Chase will grow into a Pro-Bowl-caliber wide receiver.