When the Cincinnati Bengals selected former LSU football wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase with the No. 5 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, it wasn’t a total shock.
Chase, after all, was college teammates with Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow.
Reuniting the duo — considering their incredible success together at LSU in 2019 — makes sense.
There are plenty of folks, however, that feel like the Bengals should’ve selected an offensive lineman instead of a wide receiver.
Cincinnati’s offensive line wasn’t very good last season. As a result, Burrow took a beating, eventually suffering a season-ending torn ACL after he was sacked by Washington’s Chase Young.
The reason the Bengals selected Ja’Marr Chase instead of an offensive lineman
The Bengals’ decision to select Chase in the 2021 NFL Draft actually has a lot to do with Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning.
Offensive coordinator Brian Callahan recently explained Cincinnati’s thinking behind the pick to The Atheltic’s Paul Dehnar Jr (via USA Today).
“I look at Peyton Manning’s offensive line in 2009 when the Colts set a million records and went to the Super Bowl,” said Callahan. “He was throwing to Pierre Garcon, Reggie Wayne, and Dallas Clark.”
“I can’t name a lineman on the team besides Jeff Saturday. He had guys that won. Quickly and decisively,” added Callahan.
Callahan knows how hard it is to find playmakers in the NFL. And he believes that passing on an opportunity to give Burrow a weapon like Chase would’ve been a mistake.
Perhaps he’s right. Teams can plug holes on the offensive line via free agency and veteran depth signings. But it’s hard to find a talented wide receiver like Chase.
The Bengals have a long way to go before they’re a Super Bowl contender. Adding Chase to the roster, though, certainly brings the franchise a step closer to its ultimate goal.