2021 NFL Draft Difference Maker - Ja’Marr Chase
2021 Draft Difference Makers: Ja’marr Chase
LSU WR Ja’marr Chase went from a fairly productive freshmen to an SEC record breaking, Biletnikoff award winning sophomore in the blink of an eye. After putting up an outrageous 84-1780-20 TD season in 2019, Chase opted out of his junior campaign due to Covid and avoiding any potential injuries. His two years of film is plenty to work off of, but it would’ve been interesting to see him adjust to playing the 2020 season with 3 different QBs not named Joe Burrow. He also would’ve had more coverage rolled his way without the now NFL rookie receiving yardage record holder Justin Jefferson manning the slot next to him. Instead he’s been training for the draft and will hopefully be in the best shape of his life by the time he works out for all 32 teams.
Chase’s size and speed may not immediately jump off the charts to the untrained eye. Although listed at 6’1 and 200 lbs I have a feeling he may check in near or just under 6’ officially. As for his weight he is pretty thick and tough to bring down but potentially lighter now while speed training all Fall. While he’s no doubt fast I have a feeling he’s more in the mid to high 4.4’s than 4.3’s. We will find out more this Spring. The reality is that he is a savvy, physical player with game speed that stands out on tape regardless of what he clocks in the 40. His route running and understanding of the game (hand usage, reading coverages, overall technique) shown while playing at age 19 is absolutely superb. These are the specific traits that make superstars like Stefon Diggs and Keenan Allen unstoppable despite not being the biggest or fastest on the field. He wins with quickness, timing, ball skills and passion instead of simply physical talent. Overall he reminds me of a blend of DJ Moore and Jarvis Landry. All 3 players attack the ball in the air and are extremely dangerous after the catch.
I have no doubt that Chase will be a first round pick, but heading into this year it seemed as though he was locked in as the first WR off the board. After the 2020 season that Heisman winner Devonta Smith and his teammate Jaylen Waddle were able showcase their skills to a national championship there is now a log-jammed competition for top WR honors. Much like last year’s class of Henry Ruggs, Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb there is unlikely to be a hard set unanimous order as to which WR every team prefers. For both fantasy and real life purposes the name of the game for short term and long term success is landing spot. I see potential landing spots in Miami (draft slots 3 and 18), Cincinnati (5), the New York Giants (11), New England (15) and Washington(19). Reuniting with Burrow would be the best story line, but realistically I think pairing him with Daniel Jones at 11 or Tua Tagovailoa at 18 are more realistic. These teams would also open up more targets than the Bengals have available. Until we know for certain where Chase is playing I can’t say exactly where I would target him in dynasty or redraft leagues, but I feel safe claiming he should be locked into the top 5 in rookie drafts with potential to go higher. Running backs may be drafted quicker by you league mates, however keep in mind Chase should play 5 plus years longer than Najee Harris or Travis Etienne. This should be a very interesting draft (as always!) that I personally cannot wait to see unfold.