While much of the spotlight on the 2021 NFL Draft centers on quarterbacks, wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase is widely viewed as one of the best prospects available this year. In fact, one NFL talent evaluator is willing to go quite far with his praise for the former LSU Tigers star.
Chase, who enrolled at LSU as a four-star recruit in the 2018 class, quickly rose to stardom. He became the go-to target for Joe Burrow, paving the way for the quarterback’s record-breaking season. As a sophomore, Chase dominated SEC competition and all cornerbacks who matched up against him.
He finished the 2019 season with 1,780 receiving yards and 20 touchdowns, averaging 21.2 yards per catch and ending his sophomore campaign as a national champion and won the Biletnikoff Award.
Ahead of the 2020 college football season, with Burrow off to the NFL, Chase exercised his player opt-out and sat out his final collegiate season. Instead, the talented wide receiver spent the fall preparing for the 2021 NFL Draft. Even after a year away from football, Chase is viewed as the best wide receiver prospect in the NFL Draft and one talent evaluator went even further.
It’s a bold statement to call Chase the best prospect at his position since Julio Jones, the No. 6 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. However, there might be some merit to the praise.
Ja’Marr Chase 40 time and NFL Draft profile
NFL scouts expected to see a show when they arrived for LSU’s Pro Day. Sure enough, Chase showed everyone why he is undoubtedly the best wide receiver available in the 2021 NFL Draft.
He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds, a stellar time for a player of his physicality. While those times are considered unofficial, since there wasn’t an NFL Scouting Combine this year, they stack up incredibly well against peers from previous draft classes.
- Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson – 4.43 40 time
- Denver Broncos wide receiver Jerry Jeudy – 4.45 40 time
- Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jalen Reagor – 4.47 40 time
- Washington Football Team wide receiver Terry McLaurin – 4.35 40 time
- Tennessee Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown – 4.49 40 time
- Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley – 4.43 40 time
Chase’s 40 time passed or match some recent wide receivers who were first-round picks or have thrived in the NFL early in their careers. But he’s more than just speed. Despite standing at just 6-foot, Chase posted a 41-inch vertical leap and a 132-inch broad jump. Put those numbers in comparison to Jones and D.K. Metcalf.
- Julio Jones vertical leap: 38.5 inches
- Julio Jones broad jump: 135 inches
- DK Metcalf vertical leap: 40.5 inches
- DK Metcalf broad jump: 134 inches
Among players at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine, Chase’s vertical jump would rank sixth among all players and fourth among wide receivers.
Ja’Marr Chase is a lock to be a top-10 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and that’s a conservative projection. Realistically, there’s a strong chance the Cincinnati Bengals draft him with the No. 5 overall pick to reunite him with Burrow. If they pass on him, the Miami Dolphins likely give him serious consideration.
After three consecutive years of not seeing a wide receiver taken with a top-10 pick, expect that to change this year. In fact, thanks to Jaylen Waddle, we might see two receivers drafted with top-10 selections for the first time since 2017.