CINCINNATI — The Bengals selected Ja'Marr Chase with the fifth pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
There was an internal debate in the building between selecting the star receiver and Oregon offensive lineman Penei Sewell. Ultimately, they decided to take Chase.
Albert Breer of The MMQB has more details about why Cincinnati chose to reunite Joe Burrow with his college teammate.
"From the start, there were three guys who Cincinnati considered for the fifth pick, each of whom the team’s brass saw as a true difference-maker, and each capable of making a difference specifically for rehabbing franchise QB Joe Burrow: Florida TE Kyle Pitts, Oregon OT Penei Sewell and LSU WR Ja’Marr Chase," Breer wrote. "So what made Chase the pick? With a feeling Pitts would be gone by then (and he was, to the Falcons at No. 4), the internal debate between Sewell and Chase was extensive, as you might expect, and the Bengals were trying to look at the draft as a mosaic (with OL coach Frank Pollack active on the road, going to the pro days of a ton of expected Day 2 linemen to see whether the team could address that need later on). In the end, the Bengals saw Chase as capable of being a true X receiver, who was consistently productive in the biggest games and against the best competition LSU played in 2019. His hands, awareness and ability to win in 50-50 situations (understanding the nuances of route running, when to show his hands, etc.) were all A-plus. And he got a nice recommendation from his ex-Tigers teammate too. Burrow told the Bengals staff that in the offseason leading up to LSU’s national title run, “If I was doing something extra, Ja’Marr was always with me doing something extra,” which helped ease any questions on Chase’s opt-out year. Burrow also fielded a direct question from the Bengals’ staff: On a scale of one to 10, if we drafted Chase, how excited would you be? “Ten,” Burrow answered. So Chase is a Bengal. Having passed on Sewell, the team understands part of the equation in assessing this pick will be how the three linemen the Bengals did draft (second-rounder Jackson Carman, fourth-rounder D’Ante Smith and sixth-rounder Trey Hill) play. But as for the sense I’ve gotten on Chase? I can say the Bengals were at peace with the call to take him throughout the day on Thursday, and Burrow, who got a heads up it was coming, couldn’t have been happier to see it happen."
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There's no denying that Burrow wanted Chase. The fact that the 24-year-old text his college teammate on the morning of the draft and said "pack your bags" is all that needs to be said.
The Bengals had Chase higher on their board, which is one of the many reasons why he was the choice.
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