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NFL Analysts Grade Bengals' Selection of Star Receiver Ja'Marr Chase in 2021 NFL Draft

Here's what the national media is saying about the Bengals' pick

CINCINNATI — The Bengals selected LSU wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase with the fifth pick in Thursday night's NFL Draft. 

The 21-year-old posted a record-setting season in 2019 and helped the Tigers finish 15-0 en route to a national championship. 

What did NFL analysts think about the Bengals' decision to reunite Joe Burrow with his No. 1 target from college? Here are the latest draft grades from multiple outlets:

Sports Illustrated: B

"The Bengals reunite Joe Burrow with his favorite receiver from LSU. Chase is a physically dominant wideout who plays bigger than his size. Possessing great speed, he can succeed deep, winning the ball at the catch point. Still evolving as a route runner, he has the physical tools to become a high-level separator. Chase is tough to tackle once the ball is in his hands.

"Cincinnati has a need on the offensive line and a number of strong prospects sitting on the board. Their decision to go with the playmaker puts extra pressure on them to select blockers that can take pressure off of Burrow."

The Sporting News: A-

"Joe Burrow gets the help he needs, just a little different from what many expected. Chase is an excellent all-around receiver who can line up everywhere and make big plays like a true No. 1. He has great established chemistry with Burrow from their explosive production together at LSU. Chase will make big Tee Higgins and slot ace Tyler Boyd even more dangerous against lesser coverage. The minus is simply for making the tough decision to go weapon over protection for Burrow in the form of an offensive tackle."

Chris Trapasso, CBS Sports: A-

"This is the *slightly* more sensible pick over Penei Sewell. Chase is fast, physical, high-point *and* YAC specialist. He'll make Joe Burrow better and help him get the football out quicker."

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: B+

"Love this player. He will be a big-time pass catcher as he joins former college teammate, Joe Burrow. But I would have taken an offensive tackle here."

Sheil Kapadia, The Athletic: B

"With Chase’s blend of toughness, competitiveness, ball skills, speed (4.34) and body control, he was widely considered the top wide receiver in this draft. There’s a strong case to be made that the Bengals should have addressed their offensive line with Penei Sewell here. But given the chemistry that Burrow already has with Chase, I have no issue with going wide receiver here and hoping for the next version of Steve Smith. The Bengals can now turn their attention to offensive line in the next couple rounds."

Yahoo Sports: A-

"They’ve been on Chase for a while now, with team owner Mike Brown reportedly stamping the final decision. Chase gives Joe Burrow three excellent wide receivers — Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd — similar to what he had in college. Chase was his go-to guy, and it looks like a great match … if the protection holds up."

USA Today: A+

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"This is a strong class at the position, but what sets Chase apart is his ability to play the X receiver spot at a high level out of the gate. Staring down some of the best man coverage defenders the NCAA had to offer, Chase put together an impressive season back in 2019, when he was just 19 years old. He has true big play ability, with the potential to beat you deep with his speed but also his ability to turn slants into touchdowns with his strength and footwork. His versatility and strength make him the top option at this position on the board. Can we put more plusses on this one? Both Chase and Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow were at their best when playing together at LSU in 2019, and through there are still questions about Burrow’s protection, Chase is the best receiver in this class, perhaps the best offensive player, and this is the slam-dunk the Bengals had to do."

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