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5 reasons why Cincinnati Bengals’ Ja’Marr Chase will be a top-10 NFL rookie

In April’s NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals selected LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase fifth overall. When most expected Bengals general manager Duke Tobin to pick an offensive lineman to help protect their franchise quarterback Joe Burrow, the front office turned to Chase instead. 

By selecting Chase, the Bengals opted to give their young quarterback another talented target. With a healthy Burrow leading the pack, here are five reasons why Chase will be a top-10 NFL rookie in 2021

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1. Chase’s 2019 performance with Burrow was nearly flawless

Ja’Marr Chase was phenomenal in his sophomore season paired with Burrow at LSU. After hauling in 84 passes for 1,780 receiving yards and 20 touchdown catches, Chase earned several accolades. Chase won the Biletnikoff Award for nation’s best receiver, was named a unanimous All-American and earned first-team All-SEC honors.

Chase went over 200 receiving yards in three separate games in 2019, including against Clemson. In total, Chase had nine games racking up more than 100 yards through the air. The Tigers went undefeated on the way to winning the College Football Playoff National Championship with Burrow throwing the ball to Chase. Can their college success carry over to the NFL?

2. Ja’Marr Chase outshined Justin Jefferson at LSU

cincinnati bengals wide receiver ja’marr chase
Sam Greene/The Enquirer via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Justin Jefferson 2019 LSU stats

  • 111 receptions
  • 1,540 receiving yards
  • 18 touchdown catches
  • 13.9 yards per reception

Ja’Marr Chase 2019 LSU stats

  • 84 receptions
  • 1,780 receiving yards
  • 20 touchdown catches
  • 21.2 yards per reception

Leading the nation in receiving yards in just his second year, many NFL scouts held Ja’Marr Chase in higher standing than fellow LSU star Justin Jefferson. While Jefferson finished as the 2020 runner-up to Offensive Rookie of the Year in the NFL, Chase has a chance to win in 2021.

In college, both Jefferson and Chase had Burrow throwing them the ball. Chase had insane stats with Burrow and we’ve already seen Jefferson’s immediate NFL success. Why can’t Chase burst onto the scene in a similar fashion?

Pre-draft numbersJustin Jefferson (Combine)Ja’Marr Chase (Pro Day)
Height6’1 ¼”6’0 ⅜”
Weight202201
Hand size9 ⅛”9 ⅝”
Arm length33”30 ¾”
Wingspan78”75”
40-yard dash4.43 seconds4.34 seconds
MPH on 40-yard dash18.47 MPH18.85 MPH
20-yard split2.61 seconds2.51 seconds
10-yard split1.57 seconds1.59 seconds
Vertical leap37.5”41”
Broad jump10’ 6”11’

3. Chase spent opt-out year preparing for NFL

After Ja’Marr Chase’s sophomore statistics set single-season SEC records, the LSU star receiver decided to forego his junior year to prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft. While Chase may not have gained more experience, or put more on film in 2020, he already proved most defenders were no match for him at the collegiate level.

Instead, Chase used his time refining his skills, staying in shape, preparing for the biggest job interview in his life at the NFL Scouting Combine. As his LSU pro day numbers suggest, Chase was more than ready. The Bengals were convinced as well, making Chase the highest-selected wide receiver in 2021.

4. Chase is viewed as “can’t-miss” prospect

ja’marr chase, nfl rookie of the year
Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

While many prospects display impressive numbers at the combine or their pro day, Ja’Marr Chase did that, and then some. Unlike many athletic freaks, Chase also has the production to back it up. Even in the biggest game of his football career, Chase had one of his best performances yet, topping 200 receiving yards.

Chase’s on-field production, his recorded athleticism at the LSU pro day, and reuniting with his college quarterback are all reasons for Chase being considered one of the top can’t-miss prospects in the NFL. The highest-selected WR in the draft since Corey Davis went fifth in 2017, Chase enters the league with high expectations.

5. Ja’Marr Chase will continue to be No. 1 in Cincinnati

When he was an LSU Tiger Cat, Ja’Marr Chase wore #1 on his jersey. Now a member of the Cincinnati Bengals, Chase will be the first to wear #1 in the history of the franchise. Reunited with his college quarterback Joe Burrow, it shouldn’t take long for Chase to become the No. 1 option in the Bengals offense.

Internal options Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins are great receivers already, but Chase has the potential to be the best of them all. If early views from training camp are any indication, Burrow and Chase already have their timing down.