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Chris Olave Drafted by Saints: New Orleans' Updated Depth Chart After Round 1

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVApril 29, 2022

COLUMBUS, OHIO - NOVEMBER 20: Chris Olave #2 of the Ohio State Buckeyes catches a pass for a touchdown during the first half of a game against the Michigan State Spartans at Ohio Stadium on November 20, 2021 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

The New Orleans Saints selected Ohio State wide receiver Chris Olave with the No. 11 overall selection in the 2022 NFL draft on Thursday in Las Vegas.

Olave is coming off a strong senior season with the Buckeyes that saw him tally 65 receptions for 936 yards and 13 touchdowns in 11 games. He found the end zone at least once in nine different contests.

The 21-year-old California native showcased a consistent ability to score touchdowns during his time at OSU, putting up 35 scores in 38 appearances at the college level. That's the most TD receptions in the storied history of the program.

He'll look to carry that success to the NFL with the Saints. Here's a look at where he'll initially fit on the team's offensive depth chart:

WR 1: Michael Thomas

WR 2: Chris Olave

WR 3: Marquez Callaway, Tre'Quan Smith, Deonte Harris

Olave opted out of the Buckeyes' Rose Bowl clash with Utah on New Year's Day to begin his draft preparations, but he still traveled to the game to support his teammates.

"I feel like I'm still part of the team," he told reporters. "I didn't want to leave my guys. I just wanted to support them. I was a starting receiver. Just to be able to be there with them playing on the field. It was huge for them, it was huge for me. I'm a team-first guy. Just to be here and support them."

The 6'0'', 187-pound wideout features an NFL-ready skill set that should allow him to make a smooth transition to the next level. He's shown the ability to play either outside or in the slot, which should also help him get on the field right away as a rookie.

Bleacher Report's Nate Tice praised the receiver's route-running and ability to find soft spots in the coverage as part of his pre-draft scouting report:

"Olave is a great route-runner with polish. He shows an understanding of not only the routes he runs but the concept that the offense is running and will tempo his routes accordingly.
"Olave plays with balance and body control, which allows him to battle through contact and also attack defenders vertically before running by them or uncovering on a route. His understanding of space is on display when he's asked to run more 'advanced' routes and also during scramble drills, where he has to find unoccupied areas of the field."

Tice noted the one area where the two-time First Team All-Big Ten selection could improve is run blocking.

Olave has all the playmaking tools necessary to eventually become a No. 1 receiver in the NFL. His rise toward stardom in New Orleans may come via a steady incline rather than the direct leap enjoyed by someone like the Cincinnati Bengals' Ja'Marr Chase last season, though.

At the outset, he'll handle work in three-wide sets alongside Michael Thomas and Marquez Callaway in the Saints passing game while trying to build a rapport with quarterback Jameis Winston.