Ja'Marr Chase is expected to be the first wide receiver taken in the 2021 NFL Draft.
If Chase is available, the Bengals could reunite one of the best quarterback/wide receiver duos in recent college football history. Joe Burrow spent two seasons with Chase at LSU.
As a true freshman in 2018, Chase worked his way into the LSU offense, finishing with 23 receptions for 313 yards and three touchdowns. The young receiver showed potential and didn't disappoint the following season.
As a sophomore, Chase was a key part in Burrow’s Heisman winning season. At just 19 years old, he put together one of the most impressive seasons by a receiver in recent memory, catching 84 passes for 1,720 yards and 20 touchdowns. It’s notable that even at his young age, Chase was the top weapon in an offense that included Justin Jefferson, who was the best rookie receiver in the NFL last season, and Terrace Marshall, who is expected to be taken in the first or second round in April.
He reportedly ran a 4.40 40-yard dash last summer.
Measurables: 6-1, 206 pounds
Strengths: Chase is a very well rounded wide receiver prospect. He's very good at tracking the ball in the air and making a contested catches. He has tremendous body control and maintains his balance well. While he’s not a burner and will rarely create separation with just speed, his technique and route running make him an incredibly dangerous opponent. He doesn’t get pushed off his route easily and does a good job of putting himself in the best position to make a play.
Weaknesses: In terms of Chase as a prospect, while he is a really good route runner, he won’t be able to breakaway with speed to get open and will need to get more creative in that department. As for his fit with the Bengals, they need to add more speed to their wide receiver room. While Chase is a very good player, he probably isn’t the best fit.
Summary: The Bengals need to add more speed to their offense. Boyd and Higgins are good options and are valuable weapons, but Cincinnati definitely needs to add a speedster. Ideally the Bengals could add a third wide receiver that could stretch the field and give Burrow a deep option. While Chase isn’t that type of player, he’ll likely be successful in the NFL. If the Bengals choose to add him to the already solid group of receivers currently on the roster, it’ll only make their offense more dangerous. While there are better fits for their need at receiver, such as Jaylen Waddle or Dyami Brown, Chase is still a fantastic player and would be a nice selection with the fifth pick.
Prospect Grade: 8.8
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