By: Jack Borowsky | @Jack_Borowsky
Does Ohio State wide receiver Chris Olave have a chance to be the best wide receiver in the 2021 NFL Draft? Jack thinks so.
College football fans just saw Ohio State put up 49 points in a route over Clemson. This was a team doubted by experts, fans and of course, Dabo Swinney. Ohio State deserved some of the criticism after an inconsistent performance against Northwestern. Fields didn’t look like himself in that game and the offense looked out of sorts on passing downs.
So what changed between the showing against Northwestern to one of the best offensive performances all season against Brent Venables and Clemson? Chris Olave didn’t play against Northwestern but he destroyed the Clemson defense for four quarters.
There is an easy argument to be made that Ohio State is becoming the clear cut wide receiver and defensive back U. With the players they are producing on the outside, that idea of iron sharpens iron perfectly describes the way they’ve been developing.
Players like Terry McLaurin, Michael Thomas, and Marshon Lattimore have made such a seamless transition to the next level. All three have turned out to be the best player at their position from their respective draft class. It is plain and simple, Ohio State is just on another level when it comes to producing elite NFL talent and Olave has the makings of the next in line.
During his game against Michigan as a true freshman, Olave came onto the scene as a future star. He had two touchdowns against the Wolverines and followed up that performance with another against Northwestern in the Big 10 Championship. That was just the start of things for Olave.
He was one of the nation’s best receivers as a sophomore, accounting for 11 touchdowns and 799 yards despite a loaded receiver group. The tape showed an even better player. Olave was a phenomenal route-runner. Players who can get open tend to translate more often at the receiver position and Olave was always open. He was a fluid mover and it looked like Olave was almost gliding on the field. His hands were excellent all season as well. He had the makings of an elite wide receiver based on his 2019 film.
Then came everything that happened with the 2020 season and the Big 10. There were questions about whether or not they were going to play at all and what the season would end up looking like if they had one. In terms of improving their stock, it was going to be harder for Big 10 prospects.
Luckily, Ohio State was able to get six games in. Olave played in five, which was pretty unlucky for the cornerbacks who had to face him. Olave posted 100 yards in all but one and in that game, Olave had two touchdowns. He was the main reason Fields, and Ohio State weren’t their usual selves against Northwestern. That is how impactful Olave is as a player. He and Fields are the alphas on the offense and he is such a big threat as a receiver, teams have to dictate their game plan around stopping him.
Even a defensive coordinator as good as Brent Venables couldn’t stop Olave. He had 132 yards and two touchdowns against a secondary that features a lot of NFL talent. It was a “wow” performance that evaluators will show to general managers and ownership when pounding the table to draft Olave.
He is very similar to Terry McLaurin as a player but Olave is an even better prospect. McLaurin is one of the best receivers in the league, which shows how scary Olave has the chance to be at the next level. There is no reason why he can’t be too. Olave doesn’t shy away in the bigger games, has improved every season and has all the tools to come in and contribute at a high level from day one.
There are a lot of talented receivers in this year’s class, similar to 2019. It looks like Justin Jefferson will be the best of the bunch from this past draft, and I see Olave going in a similar range and having that kind of impact. If Olave does declare, he has the talent to hang up his cleats one day as the best receiver from the 2021 NFL draft; he is that prolific.