Using the fifth pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals elected to bring LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase to the jungle. While some were clamoring for an offensive lineman, the pick makes a lot of sense for Cincinnati. With Chase joining their already exciting receiving corps, the Bengals are now even more dynamic. Immediately, he becomes the primary target in an offense that looks to post a ton of points next season. In adding the best receiver in the draft on most boards, the Bengals offense is heading in the right direction.
Ja’Marr Chase to Cincinnati Bengals is a Home Run Pick
With the top of the draft leaning quarterback heavy, the Bengals were in a good spot. However, the chance to add Chase alongside his LSU teammate, Joe Burrow, fell right in their lap. With the pick, the team made a bold statement about their future, one that points towards prioritizing offense. In an off-season that required dedication to building around Burrow, the Bengals again showed commitment to the effort.
In terms of production, Chase was off-the-charts at LSU. During his sophomore season with the Tigers, at just 19-years-old, he won the Fred Biletnikoff Award as the college game’s outstanding receiver. In 2019, he compiled 1,780 yards, 20 touchdowns, and averaged 21.2 yards per catch. While he did opt out of the 2020 season after suffering a nasty case of COVID-19, he seemed to take advantage of his time off. At his Pro Day, Chase erupted, running a 4.34 40-yard dash and posting a 9.81 relative athletic score. At the same time, the connection with Burrow may be more important than any statistic on its surface.
Seemingly, the young quarterback is thrilled with the commitment to Chase. “I don’t know that I needed a lot of convincing, necessarily,” head coach Zac Taylor said. “I just said, ‘On a scale of 1-10, what would be your (Burrow’s) excitement level if we added Ja’Marr Chase?’ And he said, ’10.’ That’s a pretty good answer.” If that weren’t proof enough, Burrow also shared a tweet expressing his excitement for the reunion. After all, the last time the two were on the field, they were celebrating a National Championship victory.
— Joey Burrow (@JoeyB) April 30, 2021
Ja’Marr Chase Maybe Cincinnati Bengals Missing Weapon
Some wondered why the Cincinnati Bengals and Ja’Marr Chase would make sense, given some of the team’s already solid skill players. However, with Burrow under center, the more pass catcher the better. At wide receiver, the team already has Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd. Further, they have an outstanding running back under contract in Joe Mixon. Unless they trade one of those players, they’ll have this talented core for at least three seasons. They also have a very solid receiver in Auden Tate under contract through 2022.
Can’t stack the box no mo😂😏
— ⚡️Primetime!!!⚡️ (@Joe_MainMixon) April 30, 2021
With Chase now lining up outside, teams will have to pick where they’ll devote double-coverage. Although, that shouldn’t really scare those pass-catchers or Joe Burrow. At LSU, his deep group of elite receiving talent allowed him to shred defenders for one of the most prolific seasons in college history. Spreading out this Bengals offense, teams can try to take away one, but at the risk of leaving another target exposed to single coverage. In fact, there’s a chance that Higgins and Boyd produce career-best numbers this season, with Chase eating up double coverage. Further, as Joe Mixon tweeted after the pick, teams can’t stack the box as regularly against the Bengals going forward. Given that Bill Belichick calls Mixon one of the league’s best runners, it could also result in a rosy future for the back. Certainly, the pick benefits Burrow, but it could be of even bigger benefit to the rest of their skill players.
Passing on Penei Sewell Made Sense
The biggest knock on the Bengals selection was skipping out on a phenomenal offensive lineman. Many national media pundits begged Cincinnati to take Oregon tackle, Penei Sewell. Instead, they went with Chase and Sewell went to the Detroit Lions just two picks later. Some hammered the Bengals for skipping Sewell, such Bleacher Report, who gave the Chase pick an “F” grade. Then again, the board looks great for the Bengals in round two, as plenty of offensive line talent slid to the second round.
Similarly, some seem to underrate the team’s signing of Riley Reiff this off-season. While it’s just a one-year pact, it gave the team a great answer at right tackle for the 2021 season. Further, they can still add an excellent offensive lineman in the second round. Players with first-round grades like Teven Jenkins, Landon Dickerson, and Samuel Cosmi, to name a few, are still available entering day two. In a deep blocking class, skipping Sewell for a higher-ceiling player doesn’t hurt as bad as usual.
Joe Burrow is the Biggest Winner of Pick
After his 2020 season ended in a nasty injury, it became increasingly important for the Bengals to protect Joe Burrow. To the Bengals, that included giving him more receivers who can separate. None of the Bengals starting receivers in 2020, including A.J. Green, did a great job separating from defensive backs. With Chase, the team adds a player who excels in creating separation and someone who’s beloved by Burrow. The duo has a chance to create a special culture in Cincinnati’s locker room. Two hard workers, two former teammates, two players who collaborated on a championship team just two years ago.
While most are begging to build around Burrow, it seems the Bengals did a good job in that effort. Still, some craved one of the first-round offensive linemen, even in trade-up scenarios. Well, the board ended up falling well for Cincinnati, as they can still find a first-round talent on Day Two. Given the team’s core, the move to add Ja’Marr Chase to the Cincinnati Bengals seems quite promising. Still, adding blockers on day two will be a key to making this pick an absolute victory.
Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images