Chris Olave, Ohio State WR | NFL Draft Scouting Report

Ohio State WR Chris Olave's scouting report demonstrates why he's being considered as a potential first-round prospect in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft, Ohio State WR Chris Olave features in a talented group of pass catchers with first-round potential. While he came up short of 1,000 receiving yards this season in a wide receiver trio that features a potential WR1 in the next two classes, Olave still possesses a scouting report worthy of a Day 1 selection in Las Vegas.

Chris Olave NFL Draft Profile

  • Position: Wide Receiver
  • School: Ohio State
  • Current Year: Senior
  • Height: 6’0 3/8″
  • Weight: 187 pounds
  • Wingspan: 73 1/8″
  • Arm: 31 1/8″
  • Hand: 9 1/2″

Chris Olave Scouting Report

Once considered the top wide receiver in the 2022 NFL Draft class, Olave is part of a deeply talented pool of pass catchers. There is every archetype of receiver available in this class, with talent from Day 1 through to the conclusion of Day 3. Despite seeing a dip in his stock as the college football season progressed, Olave’s scouting report showcases a receiver who has Round 1 potential and starting ability in the NFL.

A former track star, Olave has more than enough speed to be a threat at the NFL level. His 4.39-second 40-yard dash time at the NFL Combine was by no means the fastest out there. However, the Ohio State WR has consistently shown the ability to play fast and can use his speed to take the top off of a defense.

More impressive than his overall speed is his burst. Olave demonstrates a stellar ability to blast past defensive backs at the line of scrimmage. Using a combination of his explosion, play speed, and incredible fluidity of movement, Olave creates separation. His footwork at the line of scrimmage is impressive, allowing him to gain an immediate advantage.

Speed, burst, and ball skills

Speed and burst will only take you so far at the NFL level. As a wide receiver, you have to be a nuanced route runner. Thankfully, Olave is impressive in this regard. He’s adept at varying his route tempo to lull his opponent into a false sense of security. He breaks out of his routes crisply. Furthermore, Olave showcases impressive football intelligence and spatial awareness as a route runner. He does a superb job of finding soft spots in opposing defenses.

As a catcher of the ball, Olave’s scouting report presents some alluring potential. He’s extremely impressive in terms of ball tracking. The Ohio State WR also displays excellent body control to adjust to the ball and secure the catch. He possesses reliable hands and is a concentrated pass catcher with a relatively low number of dropped balls in the games studied, especially when in space.

As a big-play receiver with speed to get open at the next level, Olave should prove an alluring NFL Draft prospect. His athletic ability gives him an element of versatility to be used from the slot or outside at the next level. Meanwhile, he has special-teams experience that adds even more value to his stock.

Areas for improvement

Although Olave has the traits to be a starting wide receiver at the next level, some elements of his scouting report have seen him fall below his teammate in the 2022 NFL Draft rankings.

Olave’s game lacks physicality, presenting problems for his NFL Draft stock. He doesn’t demonstrate a physicality in downfield blocking. Although that might not sound like a massive problem, it can separate a good receiver from a great one. And that could prove to be a difference-maker for an NFL team on draft night.

Olave’s lack of physicality also shows in contested-catch situations. There are examples of him winning on occasion, but that is inconsistent. Olave’s not a player you want to have to face a high percentage of 50/50 balls at the next level.

Finally, while Olave presents a dangerous downfield option, his after-the-catch value comes only if he can catch the ball in stride and use his speed to pull away from a more sluggish opponent. He doesn’t routinely create yardage for himself with an array of jukes and cuts like some of his contemporaries in the class. Again, a lack of physicality means he isn’t going to routinely grind out yardage after contact.

Olave’s Player Profile

Despite heading in as one of the top wide receivers in the 2022 NFL Draft class, Olave hasn’t always commanded such national recognition. Having spent his early high school career at Eastlake High School, Olave was forced to sit out his junior season for Mission Hills under transfer regulations following a family move to California. As a result, he only earned a three-star rating from 247 Sports.

Furthermore, he was only ranked as the 68th-best receiver in the class and the 399th player in the nation. While he couldn’t suit up for the football team as a junior, Olave performed on the track and the court. Displaying his speed and overall athletic prowess early on, Olave set a 10.8-second 100-meter time while leaping to an impressive 23’6″ in the long jump. He also excelled at basketball, but coaches described it as his third-best sport.

Once Olave made it onto the football field as a senior at Mission Hills, it became dramatically apparent which was his best sport. The explosive wide receiver led the team to an undefeated regular season. Olave set a San Diego section record of 1,764 receiving yards and 26 touchdowns in the process.

Olave’s performances in his senior season attracted considerable interest from college football programs. He held offers from 20 schools before narrowing it down to a final four of Ohio State, UCLA, USC, and Utah. The proximity of UCLA, combined with the fact that Ohio State already secured multiple WR commitments in the class, seemed to be steering him towards the Bruins. Olave had other ideas, however, and committed to the Buckeyes. 

Olave’s career at Ohio State

Olave landed in a packed receiving room at Ohio State. The 2018 Buckeyes boasted future NFL talents like Parris Campbell and Terry McLaurin. As a result, Olave’s early impact was limited to special teams and minimal receptions. Yet, the quiet young man from Mission Hills would soon cause a big noise.

Late in the season, in one of the greatest rivalry games in all of sports, Olave carved his name onto the hearts of Buckeyes fans everywhere. Utilizing his special-teams experience, he blocked a Michigan punt that resulted in a score for Ohio State. Additionally, he took his 2 receptions for 48 yards and 2 touchdowns as the Buckeyes obliterated the fourth-ranked Wolverines, 62-39.

In the 2019 season, Olave led the Buckeyes with 849 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. He displayed his big-play ability with 17.3 yards per catch. Olave recorded multiple games with 2 touchdowns and set a career-high 139 receiving yards off just 4 receptions against Rutgers. His performances, which included another blocked punt, earned him third-team All-Big Ten honors.

Olave once again led the Buckeyes’ receiver room in 2020. In one of the most disrupted seasons in CFB history, the Ohio State WR racked up 729 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns. Although statistically down compared to 2019, Olave was second in the Big Ten in receiving yards and third in touchdowns. Olave also equaled his career-high single-game receiving yards while securing over 100 yards in five different games.

Olave’s NFL Draft ascension

A somewhat surprising return to college football after helping take Ohio State to the title game, Olave entered the season as the top wide receiver in the 2022 NFL Draft class for many analysts. Opening the campaign with 2 touchdowns against Minnesota, and consecutive 100+ receiving yard games, Olave appeared on track to secure the WR1 status of the class.

However, the senior pass catcher became almost an NFL Draft afterthought in a deeply talented wide receiver room. As both teammates’ reputations soared, Olave went through a relatively barren spell where he failed to break 100 yards in four consecutive games. That said, he snagged a touchdown in each of those appearances.

Despite an apparent pause on his NFL Draft ascension, Olave ended the 2021 season with 936 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns. He earned All-American honors from some outlets and was named first-team All-Big Ten. In declaring for the 2022 NFL Draft, Olave leaves Ohio State with a program-record 35 career touchdowns.

Earning an NFL Combine invite, Olave showcased his speed in front of NFL scouts in Indianapolis. His 4.39 40-yard dash time contributed to an 8.67 Relative Athletic Score. While athletic testing is only one piece of the evaluation puzzle, it served to remind what a dangerous play-making threat the Ohio State WR can be. As a result, Olave figures to be one of the first pass catchers off the board in Las Vegas.

Tony Pauline’s scouting report on Chris Olave

Positives: Legitimate game-breaking receiver with home-run-hitting speed. Solid route runner who quickly gets in and out of routes, stays low on exit, and plays with terrific balance. Shows outstanding awareness, comes back to the quarterback to make himself an available target, and uses the sidelines well. Consistently extends to make the reception away from his frame. Has a burst of speed that he turns on in a single step.

Possesses legitimate deep speed. Uses his frame to shield away defenders, possesses soft hands to pluck the ball from the air, and creates yardage after the catch. Quickly releases off the line of scrimmage and immediately gets to top speed. Finds the soft spot in the defense.

Negatives: Not a big-bodied receiver and struggles in battles. Did not meet expectations last season. May not possess a large amount of upside.

Analysis: Olave was graded as the top senior receiver in the nation entering the year, but a change at quarterback for Ohio State led to disappointing results. Regardless, Olave possesses game-breaking speed and consistently runs past opponents while adding a lot of natural pass-catching skill. Though he’s likely to be drafted later than I presently have him rated, he’s a polished wideout who can immediately produce in the NFL.

Oliver Hodgkinson is an NFL Draft and College Football Analyst for Pro Football Network. Check out the rest of his work here, and you can find him on Twitter: @ojhodgkinson.

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