2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report


Ja'Marr Chase

January 15, 2021 1:00 AM EST


JaMarr Chase Scouting Report picture

School: LSU

Height: 6'0"

Weight: 207

Eligibility: JR

Uniform: #1

Position: WR


Evaluated by: Austin Smith
Smith.Austinj14@gmail.com
Twitter: NFLDraftAustin
January, 2021

Prospect Overview


2018: 10 G, 23 rec, 313 yards, 3 TD
2019: 14 G, 84 rec, 1,780 yards, 20 TD

In LSU's incredible 2019 Championship run, Chase was possibly the most dominant player on the roster not named Joe Burrow. After seeing action immediately as a freshman, Chase burst out with a sophomore campaign that saw him recognized as the top receiver in college football, as well as an All-American on every list in the country.


JaMarr Chase Scouting Report image 1

However, the Louisiana-native decided to opt out of the 2020 season. I'm not sure Chase would have improved his stock a ton, but with Justin Jefferson gone, evaluators would have certainly liked to see Chase play a more versatile role that included more time in the slot. Still, there is a lot to love about his game, and with the success we saw from Burrow, Jefferson, and offensive coordinator, Joe Brady in their first years at the professional level, we have every reason to believe Chase's game will transition well too.

Positives

Anyone who has seen Chase play instantly recognizes how physical he is as a player. Whether it’s in his release, the anatomy of the route, or the catch-point, he is not an easy player to disrupt. More so, Chase has no problem taking on contact with the ball in his hands and occasionally flashes the potential of a strong blocker as well.


JaMarr Chase Scouting Report image 2

Scouts often attribute the speed of the game as the most challenging part of transitioning to the NFL for young wide receivers, but the physical play from NFL corners can be equally as problematic. That is something Chase should not have an issue with as a rookie. In addition, the toughness extends to his mental approach to the game. Chase consistently plays the game at full speed, whether in his route, running through traffic, or with the ball in his hands. This should give him added value for a player that can gain yards after the catch with his toughness just as much as his athleticism.

In addition to his strength at the catch-point, Chase displays outstanding focus. He tracks the deep ball well, and even if defensive backs do get physical, his eyes stay locked onto the ball. This is part of what made him one of the best deep-ball receivers in football during his sophomore campaign, and it also shows up over the middle.

Chase plays like he's naïve to the traffic around him and sees the ball into his hands without looking away early to identify the open space of the field or defenders. This is a big reason why I think he can excel in the slot as a professional. In addition to his focus and ability to track the ball, not much hits the ground with him when it gets to his hands. We don't see a lot of double catching or unnecessary trapping of the ball to his chest.

I'd also point out that Chase appears to possess terrific initial explosion as an athlete. We see it a lot off the line or following a little hesitation move on shorter routes. This leads me to believe that he can grow into an above-average route-runner at the next level despite running a simplified route-tree in 2019. Brady tended to ask a lot more of Jefferson than Chase in that regard, while Chase was most often used to run deep routes or slants. Still, that initial explosion we see when he’s at a standstill or the breaking point is a plus, given I don’t expect him to blow us away with his overall speed.

Areas for Improvement

As I mentioned earlier, he had a limited repertoire of routes that LSU asked him to run in his first two years. I do think he has the skills to grow in this area, and maybe he is more advanced than we've seen on tape. However, I'm not sure why there was such a difference between what they asked of him and Jefferson if that was the case. Still, he's had since the summer to focus on that as one of the few critiques to his game.

Because of limited experience running routes, we also don't get to see some of the savvier parts of being a receiver from him. We don't see the angles in the early parts of his route to push a defender to flip his hips or give ground in the desired direction. I also wish we had a lot more examples of him sinking his hips, as well as the footwork getting in and out of his breaks.

His balance is good from what we've seen, but it's rarely tested with a go or slant because of the simplicity of the route. These are essential parts of being an NFL receiver, and he will have to display him to maximize his value.


JaMarr Chase Scouting Report image 3

Draft Stock

Chase's stock is strongly tied to his 2019 tape, as well as the positional work he does in the pre-draft process. If he shows an ability to run a more complex route tree, I see no reason why he won't hear his name called in the top half of the first round. Still, I don't have him locked in as the top receiver because I don't expect him to "wow" us as an athlete. His straight-line speed and change-of-direction ability will be very good, but not elite.

I also have my questions about his ability to elevate, which I didn't think would be the case judging by the amount of 50-50 balls he pulls in. Still, the guy presents problems with his physical play and makes the most of his athletic traits. Chase is also a fiery competitor and has a knack for performing in the clutch, and it will be hard to pass on a guy like this early in the first round.


JaMarr Chase Scouting Report image 4

Player Comparison

After watching his film closely, the first player that came to mind was Michael Crabtree. The two have very similar builds and athleticism while making the most of their physical traits with their ability to play at full speed. Crabtree may have run a slightly more complex route tree coming out of Texas Tech, thanks largely to the fact that he lined up all over the formation. I have a feeling we would have seen that from Chase in 2020 had he not opted out.

Still, Crabtree really became a polished route-runner after entering the NFL, and I believe the same will hold true for the LSU pass-catcher. Another player comp could be former-Bayou Bengal and current-Brown, Jarvis Landry. Like Chase, Landry has never blown anyone away with his timed-speed but plays the game with good game-speed thanks to his physical nature.

Games Evaluated

  • at Texas (9-7-19)
  • vs. Florida (10-12-29)
  • vs. Auburn (10-26-19)
  • at Alabama (11-9-19)
  • vs. Texas A&M (11-30-19)
  • vs. Georgia (12-7-19)
  • vs. Clemson (1-13-20)

Notes from Film

  • Very adept at getting a free release against press coverage. Shows good burst that he often displays following a hesitation step to get off the line clean. He is also a physical player that uses good hands to deflect jam attempts. On occasion he will also just manhandle his opponent with an aggressive approach off the line featuring a strong shove to turn the table on the defender. I did notice some of the bigger corners like Trevon Diggs and Patrick Surtain gave him some issues with their long arms, but A.J. Terrell had no success with his length.
  • His physical nature shows up in a number of areas. At the catch point, he can hold his ground and body out defenders without allowing the contact to affect his focus on the ball. When corner’s attempt to hand fight with him down the field, he keeps his hands active with swat attempts to get free and separate. He even gets away with a subtle push off every now and then in those scenarios. The bottom line is he plays strong throughout the entirety of the play.
  • Tracks the ball very well. There is such a comfort in his stride and he pumps his hands to the football very well.
  • Also, routinely plucks it out of the air with his hands. A lot of times he does so at the last second to keep from giving away that ball is on the way. It just seems like I’ve seen a lot of examples where defender is in good position but doesn’t turn his head. You could blame that on the defender, but judging on it being the trend, I tip my hat to him for not giving it away. He also routinely makes good decisions on when to high point the ball and when to take it over his shoulder and use his frame to keep defender from getting a hand on it.
  • He’s not going to blow us away with his timed forty. Probably won’t run a sub 4.5 but his initial burst gets him a step when teams press him and his play speed is more than good enough. Against Florida, C.J. Henderson had little issue running step for step with him deep.
  • Effort can be hot and cold as a blocker, but when he is competing, he can really get after it. Very aggressive with a punch to the chest, but I’d like to see him lock on a little more as opposed just shoving his opponent around.
  • Becomes a bit of a running back with the ball in his hands. Not afraid to get up to full speed, even in traffic, and runs with good balance and vision to be able to make timely cuts. Strength and balance also help him absorb blows and stay on his feet. I tip my hat to his competitive nature as well because I think that is part of what makes him so difficult to get to the ground.
  • A rare drop in the National Championship on a ball that I don’t think he saw until the last second. He usually tracks and adjusts to the ball well but this ended up so far behind him that he had to blindly stab at it with his hands. If he picks it up sooner, he likely fades to the sideline to make the easy touchdown catch. Had another drop against Alabama where he just didn’t get his head around quick enough on a ball he knew was going to come quick.
  • Focus over the middle is terrific. The prospect of taking a big shot just does not faze him and its apparent by the speed he plays with in traffic, as well as his willingness to watch the ball all the way into his hands without peaking early to see if he’s going to take a shot. Definitely some Jarvis Landry in him when it comes to fearlessness.
  • His core strength and balance allow him to easily adjust and contort hiss body to bring in off-target throws. This, mixed with his ability to track the ball so well makes him all the more reliable as a target.
  • As a route runner, there is going to be a lot of work to do. It starts with the variety of routes he’s run at LSU or lack thereof. While last year’s first-round pick Justin Jefferson ran a large range of routes out of the slot, Chase ran a much more limited tree. The ball mostly came to him on vertical routes or slants. He also ran some outs and comebacks, but very little of anything else.
  • My other big concern is the way he ran his routes. The majority of the time he ran slants and outs, he did not accelerate in the stem. Instead he used a hesitation technique that, while often effective, cannot be the norm. He rarely got up to full speed in his stem which worries me about his ability to make different routes look identical prior to the top of the route in order to get separation. He is not an elite athlete, but many NFL corners are and when they are able to identify a route prior to your break, it makes it near impossible to get distance from them. Because of his slow stems and limited route tree, we also don’t have a great idea of how he sinks his hips at the top of the route, nor do we have a great idea about his foot speed to get in and out of the break. I will say he ran a dig route that looked really smooth against Texas A&M. This may mean the ability to be a strong route runner is there, but his limited route tree just didn’t highlight it.


Scouting Video Courtesy of Flash Highlights


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