Ja’Marr Chase opted out of the 2020 season, his junior year at LSU, but he already has enough elite tape and production in his sophomore season for it not to matter. There may be some teams not thrilled that he opted out, but he’s still set to become the No. 1 wide receiver off the board early in the draft.
Chase played in 10 games his freshman year, catching 23 passes for 313 yards and three touchdowns. Then he exploded his sophomore season as he and Joe Burrow set records on the way to a National Championship. He accumulated 1,780 receiving yards and 20 receiving touchdowns on 84 receptions in 14 starts on his way to winning the Biletnikoff Award.
With only one full season as a starter, Chase isn’t as polished as Alabama’s DeVonta Smith, but he has better size and speed. His “weaknesses” are in his route running and getting off the line against press coverage. These are both areas he will be able to improve on in the NFL with more reps.
His strengths are where you need his strengths to be with just one full season as a college starter. His acceleration and natural instincts make him impossible to consistently cover by even the best college corners. When he sees a 50/50 ball, it’s his, as he plays bigger than his six-feet, positioning his body well while high-pointing the ball. He has an innate feel for the deep ball in the air, as he’s able to adjust and stay balanced at great speeds.
What scouts are saying
As I was studying Chase, I couldn’t help but notice how many quality cornerbacks he dominated last fall. The SEC is littered with NFL-caliber defensive backs, and he got the best of almost every single one. His competitiveness is off-the-charts impressive. He just refuses to give himself up. You never see him run out of bounds with the ball in his hands. He will lower his shoulder against defenders and, like most outstanding wide receivers, he can find another gear when he needs it. Once the ball goes up in the air, you can see him accelerate and separate. He’s a special, special talent. — NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah
Mock Draft landing spots
With quarterbacks dominating the very top of the draft, Chase will need to wait a few picks, but should go off the board as the first or second wide receiver. Much depends on what the Bengals do with the No. 5 pick. Right now the argument is between OT Penei Sewell, TE Kyle Pitts and Chase. The consensus landing spot appears to be to the Miami Dolphins with the No. 6 pick, but the Lions would be there to scoop him up if given a chance.
Fantasy impact: Rookie year
If Chase were to land in Cincinnati, he’d be paired back with his college quarterback, giving him a head start in the NFL. That would likely be his best landing spot for fantasy of the teams poised to draft him.
Fantasy impact: Career
The sky is the limit for Chase in the NFL and no matter where he lands, his longterm prospects are the highest of all the receivers coming out this season. He’ll battle with Kyle Pitts for my No. 1 player taken in dynasty rookie drafts this season.