Meet Ja’Marr Chase: A ‘special’ talent and the best wide receiver in the 2021 NFL Draft

The former LSU wide receiver is primed to be taken in the top five, with former teammate Clyde Edwards-Helaire detailing just what makes him so coveted at the next level

Jack Rathborn
Assistant Sports Editor
@JackRathborn
Thursday 29 April 2021 16:29
comments
Ja’Marr Chase is coveted by many teams inside the top 10 of this year’s NFL Draft
Ja’Marr Chase is coveted by many teams inside the top 10 of this year’s NFL Draft

Ja’Marr Chase enters tonight’s NFL Draft as one of the most coveted players in this year’s class and the consensus No 1 wide receiver.

Tune in early or you might miss the former LSU star, who took the brave decision to opt out of last season due to the Covid-19 pandemic, leaving teams to salivate over his spectacular 2019 season a little longer.

An explosive year alongside Joe Burrow, who was snagged with the first overall pick by the Cincinnati Bengals last year, allowed Chase to post a collection of irresistible numbers: 1,780 yards, 20 touchdowns and an average of 21.2 yards per catch.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire, the Kansas City Chiefs running back and former teammate, enjoyed one of the best seats in the house as Chase dominated with his imposing 6’1”, 200-pound frame and violent instinct.

Edwards-Helaire, selected with the last pick of the first round last year, barely hesitates before picking Chase when afforded the opportunity to imagine who the Kansas City Chiefs would select with the No 1 overall pick - a fantasy that is at least a decade away as long as Patrick Mahomes remains healthy at Arrowhead.

Their close relationship was forged long before their time together with the Tigers though, having grown up together at fiercely competitive rival schools in Louisiana, though he concedes it was only when they linked up at Baton Rouge that he realised he could blossom into something truly “special”.

“Just the conditioning tests, the way he worked out, being attentive to everything,” Edward-Helaire explains when discussing why Chase is so special. “He was one of those guys, I was like, ‘OK, Ja’Marr’s going to be one of those guys that goes top five’.

“He showed it - he only played two years but the two years he was there he displayed everything he needed to and I was with him those two years.

“You can watch the film from LSU and he displays everything. He attacks the ball and high-points, great route-running ability, when I’m running the ball he’s blocking down the field.

“Everything you need an all-around receiver to do, he gets it done and I think everything’s going to translate over into the league.

“He’s going to do everything he needs to do to elevate his game. He opted out and still came out and performed as we expected him to do, and that just goes to show how he is about his craft and what he loves the most is playing ball.”

Chase’s draft experience will be less nerve-wracking than Edwards-Helaire, with the 22-year-old conceding he was preparing to return for day two when the reigning Super Bowl champions made the shock call. The destination was even sweeter after learning that general manager Brett Veach consulted Patrick Mahomes about who he desired most to join him and the Chiefs’ explosive offense.

But a promising rookie campaign was spoilt somewhat by a late injury and then heartache at Super Bowl LV, where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers romped to victory.

But after a swift recovery, Edwards-Helaire is excited for next season, which will involve a trip to see Burrow, the Bengals and, quite possibly, Chase - who is a prime candidate to be snatched with the fifth overall pick tonight.

“I see it being something special,” Edwards-Helaire replies when imagining his two former teammates reuniting at Paul Brown Stadium.

“I feel like if Joe’s able to get Ja’Marr, it’s going to be the start of something special there, knowing they’re going to have numerous years together and be able to continue that chemistry they had.

“Comparable to the best, I think they’d be able to do it at this level, in the NFL, so I think it’d be a sight to see if Ja’Marr ends up there.”

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments