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Ja'Marr Chase NFL Draft 2021: Scouting Report for Cincinnati Bengals WR

BR NFL Scouting DepartmentContributor IApril 30, 2021

FILE - In this Jan. 13, 2020, file photo, LSU wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase scores past Clemson cornerback A.J. Terrell during the first half of a NCAA College Football Playoff national championship game, in New Orleans. Chase was selected to The Associated Press preseason All-America first-team, Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)
Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press


HEIGHT:
 6'0 3/8"

WEIGHT: 201


POSITIVES

— Strong-handed and physical. Consistently attacks the ball in the air and plays with an edge. Shows very good play strength on his releases and on contested catches.

— Displays very good body control and balance in his routes and with the ball in his hands. Hard to bring down and can maintain his routes through contact from defensive backs. Able to throw defenders aside and maintain path when running short and intermediate in-breaking routes like slants and glances.

— Very competitive and displays it throughout his game. From when the ball is in the air to when he’s trying to generate yards after the catch, he's constantly fighting.

— Natural ball-catcher. Comfortable tracking the ball on the move and over his shoulder, and he displays very good hand-eye coordination. Will reach out and snatch throws over the middle. Able to win deep and vertically thanks to his body control and hand-eye coordination as opposed to being an overwhelming speedster. Can consistently adjust for throws away from his body at all three levels.

— Above-average overall route runner who can win at the line of scrimmage vs. physical CBs and has a good feel for space. Good feel and body control for maintaining path and not drifting on routes. Stays friendly to the QB on scramble drills.

— A true weapon in the red zone because of his good feel on routes, his ability to win in tight spaces and his strong hands.

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NEGATIVES

— Just OK explosiveness to pull away from defenders with the ball in his hands. Can create some yards after the catch through pure physicality, but he isn’t going to make a ton of defenders miss. He tested well, but play speed doesn’t truly match.

— Will need to keep refining releases from the line of scrimmage. Utilizes a double-hand slap and not much else.

— Doesn’t consistently create separation on his routes, especially ones further down the field, resulting in the need to come up with contested catches. Shorter arms (sub-31”) might also hinder his contested catch ability at the next level.

— Needs to continue to add to his route running tree and refinement. Can be loose on his route tops and get “stuck” out of his break. Has the ability but can end up lacking detail and will need more reps to work on consistency.


2019 STATISTICS

14 G, 84 rec., 1,780 yards, 21.2 avg., 20 TD


NOTES

— Sat out 2020 season.

— 2019 Unanimous All-American

— 2019 Biletnikoff Award


OVERALL:

Ja’Marr Chase is a strong, physical WR with natural hands and good body control who projects as an outside WR at the NFL level. Chase consistently wins on his releases and routes with his strength and physicality, and he shows good foot quickness and overall athleticism. He attacks every ball like his life depends on it and can extend away from his body to make catches at all angles needed, flashing his body control, catching range, and overall competitiveness. He is solid with the ball in his hands and doesn’t make a ton of defenders miss in tight spaces, preferring to lower his shoulder and run through people or split them.

Chase also will need to continue to refine his route running. Overall he shows an above-average skill set, but he wasn’t asked to run an extended route tree and lacked some consistency. Chase’s biggest question mark will be if his preferred bullyball physical playstyle will translate in the NFL because of just above-average size, shorter arms and his testing numbers not fully translating onto the field.

Despite this, Chase was an incredibly productive WR at LSU whose physical play can set the tone for an offensive unit and can overwhelm less-physical CBs with his strength, competitiveness and contested-catch ability. Chase projects to be a Day 1 contributor for any offense with the upside of being a bonafide top-tier X-WR who is a touchdown machine once the offense gets inside the 20-yard line.

GRADE: 8.6/10 (Immediate impact NFL starter, 1st round)

OVERALL RANK: 10/300

POSITION RANK: WR3

PRO COMPARISON: Michael Crabtree

Written by B/R NFL Scout Nate Tice

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