Ja’Marr Chase is the prized wide receiver in a loaded NFL Draft class at the position, and the NFL has lofty expectations for the LSU product as he follows in Justin Jefferson’s footsteps
LSU has produced some of the NFL’s most dominant wide receivers, but Ja’Marr Chase enters the NFL Draft as perhaps the most polished to ever come through the storied program.
When the NFL Draft begins on April 29, it will have been 472 days since Chase last stepped on a football field prior to opting out of the 2020 season. But, the league hasn’t forgotten what it will be getting in the former LSU standout.
“That kid has the chance to be truly special,” a current NFL offensive coach slated to pick in the top-10 later this month tells FanSided.
Chase, who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds at LSU’s pro day earlier this month, is the consensus No. 1 wide receiver in a historically deep class at the position. In a pair of seasons in Death Valley, Chase caught 107 passes for 2,093 yards and 23 touchdowns, while averaging 19.6 yards per caption.
“If he moves right, he can be a Hall of Famer,” Gary Scheffler, the owner of GOATA movement, who trained Chase from his youth through his final regular season at LSU recently told FanSided.
Scheffler knows talent went he sees it. After all, he’s worked with Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs, advised Odell Beckham Jr., and is a sought-after trainer by some of the NFL’s premier wide receivers.
Statistics only tell part of Chase’s story, though, when it comes to what an NFL team will be getting when the 6-foot and 208-pound receiver pulls their cap down over his head in Round 1.
“Ja’Marr has explosion and really good lower-body strength,” an NFL personnel executive tells FanSided . “So he doesn’t get knocked off routes.
“In my opinion, coming out of college, Ja’Marr is the combination of Steven Smith from the standpoint of toughness, competitiveness, fighting for every inch, blocking, running after the catch, the whole package … And Amari Cooper’s route-running, quickness, and speed coming out of Alabama. You combine those two guys together, you get Ja’Marr Chase.”
The consensus inside the NFL is that Chase is a can’t-miss prospect, if such a thing exists.
After working with him up close, Scheffler says it’s easy to see why teams are so enamored by what he’d instantly bring to an offense.
“You’re getting a guy you can do anything with,” Scheffler says. “You can line him up outside, you can line him up inside. He’s one of those guys that … I’ve said it when he’s in high school, he comes in and out of his breaks, he can run routes, he can use his athleticism, you can’t check him at the line because he’s too strong for you.
“At the end of the play, you can throw it up for grabs to him and he’s going to come down with it because he’s just that much more athletic than the guy that’s covering him.”
Prior to opting out, Chase left a lasting impression in his final collegiate season, connecting with former LSU quarterback Joe Burrow on 84 receptions for 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns.
At that point, Chase was just two years removed from a sprained PCL that ended his career at Louisiana’s Archbishop Rummel.
That’s when Scheffler and his team at GOATA went to work.
“We recoded the way that Ja’Marr moves,” Scheffler explains. “He has more of a straight-leg lagging in his stride, so we built him up so his knee kind of sets out a little bit more, it’s a much safer landing. It’s almost a shock system, you can absorb energy into the muscle structure of the leg, it’s a much-safer way to run.”
One of the hardest workers that he’s been around, Scheffler isn’t surprised that Chase was able to build back better than before and ultimately become the prize of this year’s receiver class.
“He doesn’t take a break,” Scheffler says. “When he’s training, he locks in. He works year-round, he doesn’t stop.”
Three years later, Chase’s work ethic has paid plenty of dividends. More importantly, the 21-year-old with bountiful potential shows no ill-effects of the injury. That was especially evident during his dazzling pro day performance, where he added a 41-inch vertical leap to his blazing 40-time.
“Ja’Marr is a genetic freak,” Scheffler added. “He can do everything. He can run, he can jump, he probably could play quarterback if you needed him to. He can do everything. He played basketball, he jumped 25-feet in the long-jump, he’s just a genetic monster. His athleticism is more than any other kid that I’ve seen in my life.”
Chase is also the latest product of a pipeline of elite NFL wide receivers built by LSU coach Ed Orgeron, that has seen Odell Beckham Jr and Jarvis Landry go on to superstar careers, and Justin Jefferson take the league by storm as a rookie last season.
For as impressive as the start to Jefferson’s career was, catching an absurd 88 passes for 1,400 yards and seven touchdowns after being scooped up with the No. 22 overall pick by the Minnesota Vikings last April, expectations for Chase are even loftier.
In a lot of ways, those expectations for Chase are justified, especially when you compare them to the production of LSU’s two most recent stud receivers to enter the draft.
Chase broke Jefferson’s school record for receiving yards in a single season, by 240 yards. He did it as a sophomore, after Jefferson set the mark as a junior. He also caught 20 touchdowns that season, to Jefferson’s 18.
“If you talk to anybody at LSU,” a former NFL general manager tells FanSided. “Any player or any coach, they’ll tell you that it isn’t even close, Ja’Marr is better than Justin Jefferson. It isn’t even close. If you ask Justin Jefferson, he’ll tell you, ‘Ja’Marr is the best player I’ve ever been around.'”
All of that translates into the potential for some team pulling one of the top-10 receivers immediately, with their first-round pick.
“Both were great college players and Justin Jefferson had a terrific rookie season,” former Minnesota Vikings GM and NFL Executive of The Year, Jeff Diamond tells FanSided. “We’ll see if Chase can match that. He’s coming off an opt-out year, but both can run exceptionally well and are great with the ball in the air. I don’t see a lot of separation between these two.”
So, what kind of production can Chase’s new team expect from the Ferrari they’re prepared to drop into their offense?
“As long as Ja’Marr can maintain his proper movement patterns,” Scheffler says. “Ja’Marr will be fine. He’s going to be a 100-yard per game guy, he’s going to score 12-to-15 touchdowns, because in the NFL, it’s kind of like the offense they had at LSU, he can stretch the defense out, he gets behind people, he can run a 4.38 … The sky’s the limit for that kid.”