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Do not forget about Ja’Marr Chase

Even with a year off, Ja’Marr Chase is an elite receiving prospect

College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl - LSU v Oklahoma Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

Ja’Marr Chase opted out of playing college football in 2020, but that doesn’t mean his hype should take any time off. The junior receiver is still one of the best draft prospects in the country and one of the better wideouts to come out of college in a few years.

By The Numbers

Ja’Marr Chase was one of the many stars in LSU’s loaded 2019 team. With first overall pick, Joe Burrow dealing passes to fellow first rounders Justin Jefferson and Clyde Edwards-Helaire, it is amazing that Ja’Marr Chase still put up the extraordinary numbers he did. While Justin Jefferson paced the Tigers in catches (111), Chase led LSU in every other meaningful receiving category. As a sophomore, Chase caught 84 passes for 1,780 yards (a stunning 21.2 yards per catch) and 20 scores through the air.

Even in LSU’s high volume, video game number passing offense, Ja’Marr Chase accounted for almost 30 percent of the receiving yards and over 30 percent of the receiving touchdowns. That is incredible efficiency. Even more incredible when you consider he played the whole season at 19 years old. Truly historic numbers for such a young college player.

By the Traits

Ja’Marr Chase was LSU’s designated big play threat. His athleticism stretched the field and created opportunities underneath for Justin Jefferson and Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Chase wasn’t a pure perimeter receiver, though. LSU put him all over the field to stress the defense and create mismatches for Joe Burrow to exploit.

Ja’Marr chase creates unique advantages on offense because of his blend of freakish athleticism and physicality. He instantly accelerates as soon as he secures the catch and there’s nary a defender in the SEC who was able to slow him down.

The beauty of having a player like Ja’Marr Chase is that his speed impacts the game even if he doesn’t line up on the outside. In fact, it impacts the game if he doesn’t see the ball at all. The mere threat of his speed downfield or ability after the catch dictates to the defenses and forces them to stretch vertically to prevent big plays. This creates soft spots in coverage or one-on-one chances for Chase’s teammates. His presence did so much to elevate the other talented players on his team.

Chase offers more than just speed, however. The six foot, 210 pound pass catcher is extremely physical when he wants to be. Both at the point of attack and after the catch.

Chase has no problem working through contact to pick up extra yards after the catch. That strength and physicality also shows up when he’s singled up with a cornerback.

CJ Henderson was one of the many highly drafted cornerbacks Ja’Marr Chase got the better of. Here Chase is too strong at the catch point despite Henderson being right there with him.

Once again, Chase’s athleticism and physicality allows him to win above the rim here.

At the next level

Chase is a create a player from a traits standpoint. He is fast, agile, strong-as-hell with a great vertical and ball skills. The big questions for him on field is consistency. Despite his crazy numbers, Chase did leave some on the field in terms of drops. This is not a major concern, because the volume of passes he saw in contested situations means that drops or “losses” are inevitable. However, there is always going to be a want to see more when he seems can flip a switch and dominate whoever is in front of him.

Another question will inevitably be rust, whether fair or not. Ja’Marr Chase has been working off the field despite not playing with LSU this year, but over a year without live football will raise questions about immediate impact.

However, with someone as talented as Ja’Marr Chase, I will take a few games of shaking rust off for what should be a long career as a playmaker.