Expectations for Ja'Marr Chase in 2021

Expectations for Ja'Marr Chase in 2021

Ryan Knuppel
3 years ago
3 min read
Expectations for Ja'Marr Chase in 2021

Faced with a decision to take a receiver or offensive lineman with the fifth overall pick, the Bengals took a receiver in the form of LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase. Between his reputation as the class’ top receiver and his previous partnership with Joe Burrow in Baton Rouge, fans are excited to see Chase in black and orange every Sunday.

Here are a few realistic expectations to have for Chase heading into his debut season in Cincinnati.

Chase is a Day 1 starter

Chase made the decision to sit out the 2020 season due to the pandemic, meaning the last competitive football game he has played in was the National Championship in January 2020. However, he should be on the field with the first team from the start of camp and leading into the regular season.

There is no indication that Chase is overly raw or a project. He has NFL-caliber size and speed, as well as a high IQ and experience against the best defenses in college football. Furthermore, the chemistry he already has in place with Burrow from their LSU days will help his transition to the NFL go more quickly than those for other rookie receivers.

Expect to see Chase and last year’s second-round pick Tee Higgins starting on the outside with veteran Tyler Boyd deployed in the slot. The rookie will be highly depended on throughout the year to create offense, starting in Week 1.

Chase hauls in 70+ catches

In Chase’s breakout 2019 campaign, the sophomore reeled in 84 catches in 14 games, an average of six per game. Now with the same quarterback and in 17 games, that puts Chase at a pace for 102 catches in his rookie year.

Now that being said, 102 catches would be unbelievable, considering only eight players last year nabbed 100 receptions or more. But getting to 70, a mark 33 players hit in 2020, would be very realistic for Chase. Especially since he is a part of an offense that projects to pass more than most of the league.

With Joe Burrow for 10 games and backups for the others, Boyd managed 79 receptions while Higgins had 67. Chase is likely more talented than both and should find a way to even get close to 80 catches if he adapts to the offense early.

Chase wins Offensive Rookie of the Year

Usually, the Offensive Rookie of the Year award goes to a quarterback or running back. In the last 20 years, only Anquan Boldin (2003), Percy Harvin (2009), and Odell Beckham Jr. (2014) won R.O.T.Y. as a wideout. But Chase could be dynamic enough to win the award.

It will take a strong season that defies the already high expectations, however. Boldin had 101 catches and eight touchdowns in his rookie year with the Cardinals. Harvin had 60 catches and six TDs for the Vikings, but also racked up nearly 1,200 return yards, while Beckham’s 1,305 yard, 12 touchdown season with the Giants is one of the best rookie years in NFL history.

While it will be tough, Chase can at least enter the conversation by the season’s end. If the talented wideout grabs 90+ catches, multiple touchdowns, and eclipses 1,000 yards, it’s possible that he could be one of the few players at his position to be awarded such a prestigious honor.

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