CINCINNATI — Some people may still question the Bengals' decision to take Ja'Marr Chase with the fifth pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, but the 21-year-old's stellar start to his rookie season should put that debate to rest.
Chase has been phenomenal. He has 23 receptions for 453 yards and five touchdowns in his first five games. Four of his touchdowns came from 34-yards out or farther.
“I’m expecting for a go ball any moment—every moment. That’s one of the reasons they got me—I’m a deep threat," Chase said after the Bengals' overtime loss to the Packers. "Whenever they say going deep that’s something I get happy for. That’s my job.”
The rookie finished with six receptions for 159 yards in Sunday's loss, including a 70-yard touchdown right before halftime.
He's on pace to finish the season with 78 receptions for 1,540 yards and 17 touchdowns. That would be the most receiving yards by a rookie in NFL history and the most receptions and touchdowns by a first-year player in Bengals' history.
Chase joins Randy Moss as the only players ever to have 400+ receiving yards and five touchdowns in their first five career games.
He's also the fifth rookie in NFL history with at least 50 receiving yards in each of his first five games. Earl McCullouch, Terry Glenn, CeeDee Lamb and Terry McClaurin are the others.
"I think what he did in college has really carried over. It's winning one-on-ones, making plays on balls down the field even when the opportunities aren't always there," head coach Zac Taylor said. "He just has a great knack for judging the ball down the field, which not everybody does. He's physical. He's got really good hands. He's got good scramble awareness to get in phase with Joe like you saw on the play at the end of the first half. He's in great shape. Not every rookie that comes into the league is in that kind of shape. That's one thing you notice. He's played a lot of snaps. We try to take care of him where we can, but he just goes and gives great effort. Even in the fourth quarter he's catching those go balls and back shoulders and things like that. He's everything we expected him to be and hoped to be and so far through five games that's what we've seen from him."
There will be some people that mention Penei Sewell again this week—the offensive tackle that the Bengals passed on to take Chase.
Cincinnati's offensive line may have issues, but taking Chase was the right move and he's proved it early in his NFL career.
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