With the No. 5 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Bengals select LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase….
Ja’Marr Chase Career Statistics
Chase sat out the 2020 season due to COVID concerns after turning in a massive 84-1,780-20 season in 2019 at age-19. That season also saw him outproduce Justin Jefferson, who just posted the most receiving yards in a rookie season since 1960.
While we would have liked to see Chase play outside of the 2019 LSU offensive juggernaut, his physicality and production have him as the top wideout on the board and it is hard to push back on that.
In 2019, Chase had 24 catches on throws over 20 yards downfield while also being a bully after the catch, breaking 22 tackles per Pro Football Focus. Showing up for big games, Chase posted 6-140-1 against Alabama and then 9-221-2 in the Championship Game versus Clemson. We have a limited sample on Chase, but that sample was dominant. At his Pro Day, Chase did nothing but cement his status as the WR1 by checking out in the 91st percentile at his position athletically.
Reuniting with Joe Burrow in Cincinnati, Chase will receive an immediate opportunity to make an impact. The Bengals have been a wide receiver-driven offense under Zac Taylor paired with a plethora of passing game scripts. The Bengals had a third wide receiver on the field for 82% of their snaps in 2020, which was second in the league. This after 78% in 2019, which was first in the league.
While the team has a pair of solid options at the top in Tyler Boyd and 2020 second-rounder Tee Higgins on hand, Chase can occupy the role and target opportunity that was allocated to A.J. Green last season and make it useful.
Burrow targeted Green on 19.2% of his passes last season, but the duo connected on just 45.3% of those passes for 4.7 yards per target and one touchdown. Targeting other Bengal options, Burrow completed 72.8% of his passes for 7.4 yards per target with 12 scores. On throws over 15 yards downfield, Burrow and Green connected on just 3-of-27 targets (11.1%) while Burrow was 21-of-47 targeting anyone else with those downfield targets (44.6%).
Early 2021 Ja’Marr Chase Projection: 123 targets, 75 receptions, 1,023 yards, 6 TD