And the debate rages on.
Who should the Bengals choose with the No. 5 selection in the 2021 NFL Draft? Oregon tackle Penei Sewell or former LSU receiver Ja’Marr Chase?
Former NFL head coach Jim Mora, Jr. recently weighed in on the conversation, and threw his weight behind the 6-1, 201-pound Chase, the former college teammate of current Bengals’ quarterback Joe Burrow.
“What a great position to be in, but what a difficult position to be in,” Mora told James Rapien of AllBengals. “The depth of offensive line in the draft. That would lead me to … Ja’Marr Chase. When that guy gets the ball in his hands he’s dynamic.
“I think that’s the right way to go. Give Joe Burrow weapons. Give him weapons. There’s gonna be some guys there [at 38] or package some things and come up [in the draft]. There’s gonna be some guys there that are going to be pretty good offensive lineman, offensive tackles. Adequate guys that are going to develop into great players, so you gotta go get Chase.”
Chase and Sewell both opted out of the 2020 season due to Covid-19 concerns. But two years ago, with Burrow at the helm of the LSU offense, Chase finished with 84 receptions for 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns en route to a national championship. He was named the Fred Biletnikoff Award winner as the most outstanding receiver in college football and was a unanimous All-American selection at just 19 years old,.
“There’s no learning curve for Ja’Marr Chase,” Mora said. “He’s going to walk into the locker room [and] he’s going to be the No. 1 wide receiver. No doubt. Sewell, there’s a learning curve. There’s some pretty nifty defensive ends out there. They’re going to come after him and they’re gonna work him for a while. And they’ll be some frustration on game day when he gets beat for a sack. ‘Why did we take that guy? Why didn’t we get Chase?’ Sewell though is a generational talent, we can’t deny that. So is Chase ... Let’s go get Ja’Marr Chase.”
Chase certainly has done his part to tip the scales in his favor. He ran the 40-yard dash in less than 4.4 seconds at his pro day, posted a 41-inch vertical leap and an 11-foot broad jump. And he has proven that he is willing to put in the work that is necessary to be great.
In the summer of 2019, after his freshman season, Chase got together with teammates Justin Jefferson (a first-round selection of the Minnesota Vikings in the 2020 NFL Draft) and Terrace Marshall for a special workout.
Chris Blair, the voice of LSU radio, shared with Dan Hoard in a recent Bengals Booth Podcast just how intense those workouts were.
“Those three guys got together in the time they could work just individually and got out the jugs gun and they upped the velocity on the footballs and they took 10,000 passes over the course of the summer,” Blair said. “It was an attempt to make sure that if the ball was within grasp, they had a good chance of hauling it in. When you look at how that translated, No. 1 to Joe Burrow’s accuracy, No. 2 to the number of catches and touchdowns and yards that Ja’Marr Chase had along with Justin Jefferson and Terrace Marshall—it kinda set the bar now for LSU receivers.”
And, according to Blair, it was Chase who was the architect of that workout.
“His approach to the game and the preparation for the game has been pro-like really since 2018,” Blair said. “And certainly he ramped that up in 2019. Ten years from now when they’re talking about the summer of 10,000 passes everybody can thank Ja’Marr Chase. He’s kinda the father of that.”
If the Bengals are looking for a new leader of the receivers room, they can do no better than father Chase.