NFL Draft 2021 Rumors: Eagles Think Bengals Will Select Ja'Marr Chase for Burrow

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMarch 29, 2021

FILE - In this Jan. 13, 2020, file photo, LSU wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase catches a touchdown pass in front of Clemson cornerback A.J. Terrell during the first half of a NCAA College Football Playoff national championship game in New Orleans. All-America wide receiver Chase, cornerback Kary Vincent Jr. and defensive end Neil Farrell Jr. have announced they won’t be playing this season. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)
David J. Phillip/Associated Press

It's looking increasingly like the Cincinnati Bengals are set to pair Joe Burrow with a former favorite collegiate target.

Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated reported the Philadelphia Eagles moved back from No. 6 to No. 12 in a deal with the Miami Dolphins in part because they believe the Bengals will select LSU's Ja'Marr Chase with the fifth pick in next month's draft.

Chase and DeVonta Smith are widely viewed as the top two receiving prospects in this class. Breer noted Burrow gave Bengals brass a "glowing review" of Chase, who sat out the 2020 season.

A unanimous All-American and winner of the Biletnikoff Award in 2019, Chase recorded 84 receptions for 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns while emerging as Burrow's favorite downfield target in a national championship season for LSU. The Tigers blasted several national offensive records on their way to going 15-0 and putting together one of the finest seasons in college football history.

Chase likely would have been the first receiver taken in the 2020 NFL draft if he were eligible.

"Yeah, I wouldn't mind," Burrow said in January when asked if he'd like to reunite with Chase. "Ja'Marr's a really good player; it's pretty easy to throw to him when he has five yards of separation every snap. He's an exciting player and a great guy and a friend as well. He was fun to play with."

The Eagles are in desperate need of a playmaker at wide receiver, and trading down six spots may be an indication they see Chase as the clear WR1 in this class over DeVonta Smith. The 2020 Heisman winner is widely expected to be a top-10 selection as well, but some have expressed concerns over his 170-pound frame.

Chase, who was listed at 6'1" and 200 pounds at LSU, has no such issues and is viewed as a potential perennial Pro Bowler. The Bengals have solid talent at wideout with Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins, but a playmaker like Chase could give Cincinnati one of the best young skill-position groups in football.

The Eagles, meanwhile, are in a rebuilding phase after spending the offseason gutting their roster because of salary-cap issues. The 2022 first-round pick they acquired from Miami is likely more valuable than staying at No. 6 and taking a receiver they're not necessarily sold on.