We know, but we don’t really know. But we kinda know. Ya know?
It’s not quite like last year’s NFL Draft when everyone knew for a fact what the Cincinnati Bengals were going to do. There were no teams in front of the Bengals to swipe Joe Burrow away from them. That pick was made long before the clock started to countdown on draft night.
And that slight uncertainty seems to be the only thing that can keep Ja’Marr Chase out of Cincinnati.
Slowly, but surely, the NFL world has come to the conclusion that Bengals are indeed planning on reuniting Burrow with his No. 1 receiver from their historic 2019 championship season. Such an idea sparked a month-long debate that created more internet hostility than a regular presidential election. The war has not officially ended, but it does seem like Team Chase will be having the last laugh. So let’s talk about the player one last time before the draft begins.
Position: Wide Receiver
Weight: 201 pounds
Projected Round: Early First
You’d have to go back half a decade before you’d find a receiving prospect has great as Chase. Not since Amari Cooper has there been an all-around stud at the position that was also viewed as a hands down top-five pick. Now, six years may not be enough time to declare someone as a generational prospect, but it’s not nothing to say Chase is a better receiver prospect than everyone else since then. And you can easily make the argument he’s a better prospect than Cooper was.
Chase is one of the few players everyone can feel confident in succeeding because not only is his skillset clear and obvious to the naked eye, he’s got the objective proof to back it all up. A former track star, Chase is an animal when the ball is in the air. He tracks down deep passes with elite acceleration and keeps that second gear when the ball gets to his hands. He’s amazing at timing when to attack the ball, which makes his 30” arms a non-factor in contested situations.
Production on deep passes (99.9 Pro Football Focus grade on passes of 20+ yards) is such a strong bullet point on Chase’s resume that it’s easy to forget how much of a menace he is after the catch. He’s as explosive as he is powerful. The guy straight up does not go down easily. He broke 22 tackles in 2019 and achieved nearly 700 total yards after contact. That’s insane for someone who’s “only” 6’0” and barely 200 pounds.
The height and arm length are the only physical reservations most folks have for Chase. No one is questioning his speed after running a legitimate sub 4.4 40-yard dash at LSU’s pro day. His stature creates a false perception that he’s not a special prospect, but when you consider everything he is, how he wins, and how he was dominating at just 19 years old against the best athletes in college football, you start to wonder if his size actually matters. He seemed to do just fine without being 6’3” or taller.
Fit with the Bengals
What the Bengals need at receiver and who Chase is as a receiver is the exact same thing. Someone who can threaten secondaries vertically? Yep. Someone who beat tight man coverage with speed and strength? Yep. Someone who can work with Burrow’s placement and creativity out of structure? Who else better than his former teammate!
A.J. Green has moved on, and the Bengals did absolutely nothing to replace him. Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins are already starters with clear roles that fit them. The easiest way to get the offense going again is to get a true replacement for what Green used to be when he was at his best. Chase fits better than anyone else in this class.
When it’s all written down, it’s easy to see why the Bengals became set on drafting Chase. They purposefully left a gaping hole at the receiver position for the best possible player to fill it in the draft. This is the same team that wasted no time in replacing Chad Johnson with A.J. Green. They’re not going to enter this new era without a new No. 1 receiver to grow with their quarterback.
That’s the case for Ja’Marr Chase. And if you’re here to fight against it, good luck.