When the Cincinnati Bengals selected former LSU football wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, there were some media members who weren’t thrilled with the pick.
Former LSU defensive back Ryan Clark, who played 12 years in the NFL and now works for ESPN, was one of the folks who was critical of the pick.
“I know it’s going to sound crazy because we’ve now reunited two Tigers in Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase….but it’s not what we wanted. It’s not what we needed,” said Clark on ESPN’s NFL live in late May (via 247Sports).
Clark’s criticism is somewhat justified — the Bengals certainly could’ve used the No. 5 pick on a much-needed offensive lineman and it would’ve been a celebrated decision.
But it’s hard to pass on a talent like Chase — especially when Cincinnati had the opportunity to pair him with Joe Burrow, Chase’s former quarterback at LSU.
Ja’Marr Chase could be the best wide receiver in the NFL
The reason the Bengals couldn’t let Chase get by the No. 5 pick is because he has all the tools to be the best wide receiver in the NFL.
That’s not hyperbole, either.
We all know about Chase’s physical tools. He has great size, speed, and catching ability. He put all of that on display during his time in Baton Rouge.
It’s the intangibles that set Chase apart from other young wide receivers in the NFL.
According to ESPN’s Ben Baby, Chase has been routinely staying late at Bengals workouts this summer to perfect the details in his route running.
“Chase plotted his place in the offensive formation as he worked on keeping his pre-snap routine and routes as uniform as possible to keep defenders guessing,” wrote Baby this week. “Implicitly, he expressed the understanding every little detail matters when trying to create separation in the NFL.”
It’s not unusual to hear about young players staying late to get in extra work. In fact, it’s almost a red flag these days if young players don’t stay late.
What really sets Chase apart is his attitude. Much like Burrow, Chase has a “head down and go to work” mentality. It’s how he’s been since his high school days when recruiting services didn’t rank him as a top 5 wide receiver in the nation.
Chase’s father, Jimmy, was often vocal about how good his son was in high school. Ja’Marr, however, just wanted to prove it on the field.
“He was tired of me telling them, OK? Because Ja’Marr wouldn’t say nothing. I would say everything,” said Chase’s father to ESPN. “But he was tired of me telling them, so he said he just wanted to show them on the field.”
And that’s exactly what he did.
Chase isn’t interested in talking the talk. He’s only interested in walking the walk.
That kind of attitude and work ethic, combined with his incredible physical skills, is what’s going to make him a nightmare for NFL cornerbacks in the coming years.