The Ja’Marr Chase train is running full speed ahead as the calendar has officially changed from March to April.
In his latest mock draft, ESPN NFL Draft analyst and insider Todd McShay has the Bengals going with Chase right after three quarterbacks and Florida tight end Kyle Pitts went off the board. Here’s what McShay had to say about the pick:
Chase is the best wide receiver in the class, and he set then-SEC records in 2019 with Bengals QB Joe Burrow under center for LSU. An opt-out in 2020, Chase is a [physical] matchup for any cornerback, and he is incredible at tracking and adjusting to the ball in the air. Tight end Kyle Pitts could be the guy if he were available, and no one is claiming that the Riley Reiff signing closed the door on the draft’s top two tackles — Oregon’s Penei Sewell and Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater — here either. But Chase is a dominant playmaker who would make an immediate impact outside. Also watch for a potential trade back: There are plenty of teams eyeing quarterbacks Trey Lance and Justin Fields (Ohio State) in this range.
So, the Bengals didn’t get to pick the first non-quarterback in the draft after the Falcons took Pitts, but they did take the first true wide receiver over any offensive lineman. It should be noted that Penei Sewell and Rashawn Slater dropped to the 13th and 14th overall picks, respectively, in McShay’s mock. Wide receivers Devonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle went sixth and eighth, respectively.
Both Sewell and Slater dropping that far does seem a bit dramatic, but the buzz for Kyle Pitts going to Atlanta is prevalent amongst most insiders, as well as the Chase-to-Cincy rumors.
If no other team decides to trade up into the top five and only three quarterbacks are taken, Pitts and Chase seem like the likeliest non-quarterbacks to go off the board first in that order. McShay did note that the fourth and fifth picks will be potential trade spots, but if the Falcons and Bengals are set on their players, it’s tough to see either team moving.
On Wednesday, Chase wowed NFL personnel with a 4.38 40-yard dash and 3.98 short shuttle at LSU’s pro day. His phenomenal workout has only fueled his already promising stock as it looks like a forgone conclusion he will not escape the first six picks of the draft.
Sewell is the last of Bengals’ likely targets to workout, and once he turns in a solid day on Friday, the conversation may shift back towards him. But Chase does seem like the frontrunner amongst those who are in the know.
In the second round, McShay gave the Bengals the young right tackle from Michigan, Jalen Mayfield:
After opting for [Chase] in Round 1, the Bengals can now grab the top available tackle in a deeper class. Mayfield is a powerful drive blocker who could end up as the starter opposite Jonah Williams.
Mayfield, who will still be 20 on draft day, definitely looks the part on film. The reason why he would be available at this juncture is because he’s really only started for one year. He barely played in five games combined in 2018 and 2020 after starting 13 games at right tackle for the Wolverines. He also isn’t the most athletically gifted blocker in this class and measured in with less than 33” arms, which could end up mattering for Cincinnati.
That said, Mayfield is an intriguing prospect that could be unlocked under Frank Pollack’s tutelage.
What do you think of this two-round mock draft? Let us know in the comments!