It is no secret that Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver DJ Chark was one of the league's most impressive downfield threats in 2020. Seemingly week after week, Chark was on the receiving end of a highlight reel, making him the team's best chance to have finally found a true No. 1 WR.
It is little surprise to see expectations for Chark continue to rise considering a stat released by Pro Football Focus, which reflects Chark's performance landed him in rare company when it comes to other elite downfield threats.
According to PFF, Chark is one of just four wide receivers since 2018 to not drop a catchable pass of 20 yards or more with 16 receptions. He joins other top-flight wideouts such as Atlanta Falcons' Julio Jones (26 catches), Chicago Bears' Allen Robinson (23 catches) and Miami Dolphins. Devante Parker (17). Considering this trio has a combined eight Pro Bowls, features two top-12 receivers and one of last year's breakout offensive players, this is good company to be included with.
While some may think all of Chark's receptions came in 2019 after a quiet rookie campaign, he did catch two passes of 30+ yards vs. the Kansas City Chiefs as a rookie. Chark, the team's second-round selection in the 2018 NFL Draft, took his game to another level in 2019, however, recording 73 catches for 1,008 yards (13.8 yards per reception) and eight yards.
Considering Chark's efficiency as a downfield threat, it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to say he does his best work when attacking the defense with vertical routes. But Chark was more than just a big-play receiver last year, he was one of the most well-rounded and productive receivers in the entire league considering his surrounding situation.
"Chark played ranked top-25 in targets, receptions, yards and touchdowns among all wide receivers last season despite missing a game due to injury. He also ranked well in many advanced statistics - Chark finished top-25 among 79 receivers with at least 50 targets in Pro Football Focus receiving grade, Sports Info Solutions receiving points earned and Air Yards weighted opportunity rating," JaguarReport analytics writer Gus Logue wrote earlier this month.
"Chark’s 2019 performance was impressive in part because his rookie season was so underwhelming. It isn’t uncommon for receivers to make a sophomore leap, but Chark’s drastic breakout was exceptional. Chark had the eighth-largest yardage increase in his second season among 619 receivers drafted from 2000-2018, per Sharp Football Analysis. "
Chark has the confidence of his teammates and coaching staff moving forward in large part due to his tremendous sophomore season in 2019. With him making such a big leap as a second-year player, expectations in Jacksonville are for him to continue to elevate his game as he enters into his first year in Jay Gruden's offensive scheme.
“Well, I think that he is playing with a load of confidence right now and that is very exciting. He’s got the skill set with the size, speed and ability to come in and out of cuts. I think we can do a little bit more with him. I’d like to get him inside and do some more things with him in the slot," Gruden said earlier this offseason.
"But he’s an excellent specimen. And the thing that I have come to know about DJ in the limited time I got to meet him was that he’s hungry. He wants to be great and when you have the athletic qualities that he has and then the desire to be great, he’s going to have a very bright future. Now it is our job to get him acclimated to this offense and get him comfortable where he can go out there and play fast because he is a big, strong, fast, hungry kid and we got to give him the ball.”