2020 is going to offer a huge opportunity for LSU wide receiver, Ja’Marr Chase, to prove that he should be the number one option at the position when the 2021 NFL Draft comes around. Chase will enter 2020 off the back of an impressive 2019 season and with all the tools to make 2020 even better. Let’s take a look at the talents Chase brings to the table.[sv slug=“vegas”]
The path to LSU
Chase is a Louisiana boy on the field and in life, growing up in Harvey, Louisiana, just 15 minutes from New Orleans. He was a four-star recruit out of Archbishop Rummel High School in Metairie and was a first-team All-State selection as a senior when he hauled in 15 touchdowns and finished his high school career with 30. Chase has supreme athleticism, he was also a state champion in the long jump as a junior.
Chase’s incredible 2019 breakout season
After finding his footing with the offense in the second half of his freshman season, finishing with 23 catches for 313 yards and three touchdowns in 13 games, Chase broke out big time as a sophomore.
At just 19, Chase has already become the most decorated wide receiver in LSU history. No other receiver for the Tigers was a unanimous All-American or posted three games of 200 yards in a season, but Chase did.
He posted a ridiculous 20 touchdowns in 2019, leading the nation with his running mate, Justin Jefferson, who was second with 18. Chase also led the nation in receiving yards with 1,780. His 20 touchdowns and 1,780 receiving yards are both SEC records, and only Chase, Arkansas State wide receiver Omar Bayless (1,653) and Jefferson (1,540) eclipsed 1,500 receiving yards in 2019. He also won the Biletnikoff Award in 2019, awarded to the nation’s best receiver. Josh Reed in 2001 is the only other LSU Tiger to win the award.
What might be even more impressive is that Chase caught 84 passes and averaged over 21 yards per catch. That average is almost unheard of with such a high number of catches. It is incredible to think he didn’t even lead LSU in catches. In fact, there was quite the gap between him and Jefferson in that category, who had 111 catches.
Chase now gets the chance to be the focal point of the LSU offense, as just about everyone else will be off to the NFL, including Jefferson. That means there will be a lot of targets on the table for Chase in 2020.
How Ja’Marr Chase became the best receiver for LSU
The numbers obviously show that Chase is already a great receiver, but it’s the way he gets those numbers that pump him up. Chase has already shown winning abilities all over the field. He’s been a deep threat in the LSU offense, quickly getting past opposing defensive backs, but he can also take a quick slant and create yards after the catch.
He’s demonstrated a strong catch radius as well as an ability to climb the ladder and high point the football consistently. All his quarterback has to do is throw the ball in Chase’s direction and he’s likely going to come down with the ball, whether he is contested or not. He’s out here making NFL catches and he hasn’t even turned 20 yet. Chase was almost unguardable last season. He was a huge trustworthy piece for Joe Burrow and will be the same for whoever replaces Burrow in 2020, which will likely be Myles Brennan.
There are examples almost everywhere of Chase showcasing how great he already is, but one good example is when he really starting breaking onto the scene in Week 2 at Texas pulling in eight passes for 147 yards.
What Other PFN Writers Have Said
In the early looks at the 2021 draft class, Chase is already receiving high praise from some of the other draft writers here at Pro Football Network.
Matt Valdovinos wrote about how 2021 prospects are just as exciting as the 2020 prospects and included Chase in that group.
“Ja’Marr Chase is currently the consensus WR1. His ability to push vertically while dominating in contested catch situations is incredible when you combine his ability as a route runner. Expect Chase to be the consensus WR1 for the majority of the 2020 season.”
This circles back to what was mentioned earlier about how Chase is making just about every type of catch you can think of and from just about every depth of the field. He stretches out opposing defenses both horizontally and vertically.
And he still has room to grow, being that he is only about to turn 20 years old. He is listed at 6’1, 200 pounds on the school’s website. That will obviously change by the time April 2021 rolls around. Heck, that will change by the time LSU takes the field to begin defense of their national championship on September 5 against Texas-San Antonio.
Scott Gorman ranked his early top-five wide receivers for next year and, surprise, he has Chase sitting at No. 1.
“If you watched any LSU games during their incredible championship run this past season, especially the title game, this selection should come as no surprise. Chase was arguably the best receiver in the entire country last season and took claim to 20 of Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow’s record-setting 60 passing touchdowns this past year. He was a man possessed against the Clemson Tigers en route to nine catches for 221 yards and two touchdowns.
In a receiving core that also featured 2020 draft hopefuls Justin Jefferson, Thaddeus Moss, and another 2021 darling Terrace Marshall, Chase was the leader of the pack and routinely made field-stretching and game-altering plays. His separation skills from the line of scrimmage and after-the-catch running ability are second to none.”
Are you sensing a theme here? It’s pretty clear now that Chase is a very, very good wide receiver and he can still get better. Opposing defenses better be on their toes next season. Sure, Joe Brady and Burrow might be gone to the NFL, but talent always rises to the top. That’s Ja’Marr Chase. He and the LSU offense will be just fine. Chase might already have done enough to make him a top-10 pick in 2021.