If a team is looking for a refined route-runner to make an immediate impact on a team, Chris Olave is that receiver. Olave is a senior wide receiver at Ohio State University. On the team in 2018, he had 12 receptions for 197 yards and three touchdowns but didn’t become the team’s featured receiver until 2019. In that 2019 season, he had 46 receptions for 799 yards and 11 touchdowns in the regular season. He was quarterback Justin Fields’ top target to go to over field two years there.
Olave could’ve entered the draft in 2021 and still have been a top-five or six receiver, yet his decision to stay back may put him in the conversation for the top receiver to be taken. Fields was drafted in the 2021 draft which left Olave to gamble with if he would have the same amount of production with a new starting quarterback in C.J. Stroud. This decision will reflect well for teams interested in him showing he can still be productive no matter who is at quarterback, as through six games so far in 2021 he has 32 receptions for 518 yards and eight touchdowns and still has five more games on the regular-season schedule. Olave should be considered the top receiver in this class and the film proves this.
Games Watched: Nebraska (2019), Wisconsin (2019), Indiana (2019), Penn State (2020), Clemson (2021), Rutgers (2021)
-Route Running/ Speed
As noted before Olave is one of the best route-runners in this wide receiver group. On his breaks, he is able to sell false movements to throw defenders off with ease which allows him to gain separation on both vertical routes and in the middle of the field. With this, he can be utilized effectively in all three levels of the field. His footwork plays a huge factor in his success in this area to help him gain the advantage on defensive backs. Not to mention his speed plays a huge factor as he possesses great burst at the line of scrimmage and in his routes to beat the defenders. This elite speed he shows can be attributed to his time on the track team as a sprinter in high school. This speed for his separation has allowed him to gain a step or more on his opponent 87% of the time since 2019.
While Olave has shined in any route Ohio State has him lined up in, vertical routes are his strong point. The hesitation moves he uses at the beginning of his route allows him to freeze corners enough to activate his burst and get down the field fast. In 2020 he had eight vertical receptions over 13 targets for 277 yards and five touchdowns.
In multiple games over his career, Olave has consistently showcased that he has a high level of football IQ. This has been shown by his ability to recognize defensive coverages at the line and find the weak spots to take advantage of and attack them. This football IQ he demonstrates has allowed him to effectively run a variety of routes, his route tree includes: corners, go routes, posts, drags, slants, outs, curls, digs, crossers, and double moves.
Olave’s ability to manipulate his body plays a huge factor in his game. He gets his chest over his feet on tight breaks which adds to his speed off the line of scrimmage, his ability to sink his hips in his routes causes misdirection for the defender as he uses that to change direction in a fast manner. This has also helped him make plays on the sideline while staying in bounds as he can manipulate his body to get the catch while also keeping his feet in.
Areas For Improvement:
Chris Olave is 6’1, weighs 188 pounds, and doesn’t play with much physicality to get up on a defensive back in tight coverage. Yet, most of the time he doesn’t need to because of his separation skills. When translating to the NFL though this is an area he will have to improve on with the 50/50 balls, in 2020 he had a contested-catch percentage of 44.4. This has also been a downfall in his blocking ability. Once in an NFL-level program, he should be able to work in this area.
Olave will be on many teams’ radar for this upcoming 2022 draft as he checks all the boxes to become a starting wide receiver out of the gate. Some of the teams that Olave could be drafted to either late in the first round or early in the second could include the Philadelphia Eagles, New Orleans Saints, Cleveland Browns, or even the Chicago Bears if they trade up to secure the receiver to reunite him with Justin Fields. Wherever he goes he will make an immediate impact on the offense.
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