CINCINNATI — When the Bengals selected Ja'Marr Chase with the fifth pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, they thought they were getting one of the fastest, most physical players in the class.
The 21-year-old dominated college football's best teams alongside Joe Burrow and the rest of his LSU teammates in 2019.
So far, the rookie has delivered on that expectation, while impressing in other areas.
His knowledge of the game and ability to learn the playbook has caught the attention of the Bengals' coaching staff.
"I've been really impressed with how quickly he's picked it up," head coach Zac Taylor said. "How easily it makes sense to him. He's got a really high football IQ. Some rookies you're concerned with overloading them, just give them a little package and ease them into it. Ja'Marr hasn't been that way at all. He's all over Troy Walters, making sure he's always getting extra, and they've had a great relationship started."
Taylor isn't the only one that's praised Chase's football intelligence. Burrow shared a similar thought at the start of training camp.
"He's a really smart player. People don't give him enough credit for that," Burrow said. "I'm not going to have to tell him what to do every play. He's a really smart guy who's in the playbook who understands his role."
Chase regularly talks to Burrow about football and life. The star quarterback showed Chase how to watch film correctly during their time together at LSU.
“I used to just sit there and watch myself, try to critique myself, but Joe actually gave me the ins and outs of watching film when I was younger," Chase said. "It plays a part now. It’s just having that want and you have to want to study your plays and I feel like that’s something that everyone needs to do.”
The rookie doesn't shy away from his mistakes. He has yet to link up with Burrow on a deep ball during training camp, but doesn't sound worried about the lack of downfield success. He went out of his way to mention two missed chances the duo had last week.
"I had two go balls. I dropped one of them and the other one was under thrown," Chase said. "I would probably say they [NFL cornerbacks] sit a lot more now. I feel like they sit a lot more and I feel like they know what’s coming just where I’m lining up so that’s on my part to make sure all my routes look a like.”
A trio of Chase, Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins could give the Bengals one of the best wide receiver rooms in the NFL. There's plenty of chatter about the trio topping the 1,000-yard mark this season.
"We don’t need to talk about it. It’s already in the air, I would say. That’s our mindset," Chase said. "That’s where we want to be. Without even telling each other that’s what we want, we know what we want already."
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