Eagles Draft Profile: WR Ja’Marr Chase
We witnessed one of the most dominant seasons in NCAA history from a wide receiver entering the 2021 NFL Draft. He finished his career with both SEC records for receiving yards (1,780) and touchdowns (20) in a single season. In nine of fourteen games, he had over 100 receiving yards. In three of those games, he went for over 200 yards.
He even won the Biletnikoff Award (Nation’s Best WR) over a teammate who was a first-round selection and Pro Bowler as a rookie. He also won the award over notable first-round picks like CeeDee Lamb and Alabama standouts like Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs … and DeVonta Smith. These numbers actually come from the incredible 2019 campaign of Ja’Marr Chase, who was only a true sophomore at the time.
Chase played his high school ball at Archbishop Rummel outside of New Orleans. He originally committed to Florida before his senior season but after racking up 1,011 receiving yards and 15 TDs, he turned his sights towards Michigan, Auburn, and LSU. Already a highly touted prospect in his own right, Ja’Marr joined the most talented roster in LSU history.
Even before Joe Brady got to Baton Rouge in 2019, the Tigers had a Top 40 offense in 2018. Justin Jefferson led the team with 54 receptions, 875 receiving yards, and 6 touchdowns. Targets were evenly spread around after that, but Chase finished tied for 2nd on the team in receptions (23), 2nd in receiving touchdowns (3), and 3rd in receiving yards (313).
Most impressively, the freshman had the 2nd highest reception percentage of the eight most targeted players, pulling in 63.9% of passes thrown his way (Justin Jefferson: 63.5%). Chase played in every game during the 2018 season but truly hit his stride while starting in the Tigers’ last five games. This stretch culminated in a 6 catch, 93 yard plus a touchdown performance against UCF in the Fiesta Bowl.
The floodgates opened in 2019 as Joe Brady assumed the offensive play calling and LSU enjoyed their greatest offensive season to date. Besides Joe Burrow, the main beneficiary from Brady’s electric offense was Ja’Marr Chase, who posted video-game numbers. Take the Vanderbilt game for example: 10 catches for 229 yards and four touchdowns. He had five different defenders assigned to him in that one and managed to gain at least 20 receiving yards on each of them.
His last 200-yard performance came in the 2019 National Championship on a night where Ja’Marr was simply unstoppable against Clemson. He torched cornerback AJ Terrell, the Falcons’ 16th overall pick in 2019, to the tune of four catches for 137 yards and two touchdowns. Chase finished with a total of 9 catches, 221 yards, and two touchdowns under college football’s brightest lights.
Obviously, college stats do not reflect future NFL dominance but it’s hard to imagine Ja’Marr Chase’s skillset not translating to the next level. His spring-loaded vertical and mesmerizing body control allows him to snag just about any 50/50 ball thrown his way. Ja’Marr will win just about any leverage battle with a defensive back downfield and quarterbacks trust him when throwing into one-on-one coverage.
Chase is not the fastest receiver in this draft but is a very smooth, instinctive route runner and uses his physicality to beat defenders late in routes. The only major criticism I can point to in Chase’s game would be a lack of “elite elusiveness”. He gets jammed a lot at the line of scrimmage, essentially taking him out of plays from time to time. But at 6-foot, 200 pounds, Ja’Marr doesn’t need to be incredibly shifty and relies on his absurd balance and athleticism to get open or make guys after the catch.
Doubters on Chase also could point to the fact that most of his production came in Joe Brady’s system with a future NFL star in Joe Burrow throwing him the ball. Well, how did that end up for Justin Jefferson in Minnesota? If anything, playing in a pro scheme enhanced Chase’s abilities as he was arguably LSU’s biggest threat at wide receiver as a true sophomore.
Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas | USA TODAY Sports