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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 20 Michigan State at Ohio State Photo by Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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Does Chris Olave’s elite-level speed and ball skills make him the best deep threat in this draft class?

Chris Olave film session. Elite level speed and ball skills are his forte, but what else does Olave bring to a team?

Chris Olave, WR, Senior

School: Ohio State University

Height / Weight: 6’1” / 185 lbs

Hand size: 9 1/2”

Arm Length: 31 1/8”

Wing Span: 73 1/8”

40-yard dash: 4.39

Projected Draft Status: Round 1

Player Overview

Chris Olave is a senior who played in 38 career games at Ohio State. Olave has played for Head Coach Ryan Day each season, and his offensive coordinator was Kevin Wilson during that period. Day utilized an Erhardt-Perkins offensive scheme, which focuses on concepts that can be run out of multiple formations, essentially giving the quarterback the same reads on each play.

Chris Olave is a very good athlete with average height and below-average weight for receivers. In addition, he has elite acceleration, balance, foot speed, very good change of direction, good agility, and quickness.

College Stats

In 2021, the Buckeyes averaged 380.9 passing yards per game (3rd), 180.3 rushing yards per game (47th), and averaged 45 points per game (15th).

Injuries

2018 - None

2019 - None

2020 - Undisclosed head injury (Week 1; no time missed)

2021 - None

Strengths

Context: UMD v. OSU, Week 5, October 9, 2021. 2nd and 7 @ MD 46.

Analysis: Olave’s athletic ability and mental processing are on full display. With elite-level acceleration, he can quickly eat the cushion of the off-zone cornerback. In Olave’s stem, he manipulates the defender’s hips by pressing the outside shoulder, forcing the corner to declare quickly how he intends to react. With elite explosion and foot speed at his breakpoint, he easily blows past the defender to the point that the cornerback cannot recover. Unfortunately, the pass was slightly overthrown, and Olave could not fully get under the ball.

Context: UMD v. OSU, Week 5, October 9, 2021. 1st and 10 @ MD 34.

Analysis: Like the previous play, Olave can quickly eat up the defender’s cushion in his release with very good acceleration and mental processing and explode at the breakpoint to get behind the defense.

Context: MSU v. OSU Week 10, November 20, 2021. 2nd and 3 @ MSU 43.

Analysis: Olave is given a free release from Michigan State’s defense on this rep, and he takes full advantage of it. Olave explodes off the line of scrimmage with elite acceleration and foot speed to close the cornerback’s cushion vs. off-zone. Olave goes slightly vertical before reaching the breakpoint to gain a leverage advantage. He quickly creates separation with elite foot speed at the breakpoint as he crosses toward the middle of the field. He ends the play with a touchdown, displaying very good tracking skills at the catch point to find the ball in the endzone with a very good adjustment to get his feet in bounds in the back of the endzone.

Context: MSU v. OSU Week 10, November 20, 2021. 1st and 10 @ MSU 28

Analysis: Olave goes for a change-up in his release, starting this rep with below-average acceleration versus off-man coverage. As he approaches the jam attempt, Olave displays good play strength at the breakpoint to continue to push vertical through contact with a subtle, but effective, chop through the cornerback’s arms. With elite tracking skills, Olave can find the ball after the fight and displays elite concentration to maneuver toward the sideline while maintaining his eyes on the ball. Olave shows some elite hands on the move toward the sideline and elite adjustment to secure the ball while falling and getting a foot in bounds. This rep is also a very good display of competitive toughness with the ball in the air.

Context: Purdue v. OSU, Week 9, November 13, 2021. 1st and 10 @ Purdue 40

Analysis: Outside of elite foot speed and acceleration, Olave does use mental processing to get open by identifying coverage techniques used against him. Here, Olave displays good mental processing in his stem to attack the corner’s blind spot presented in bail coverage. Because he successfully reaches the blind spot, he is able to create separation at the breakpoint with good change of direction, sinking his hips as he gets into his curl. Olave displays good hands on this rep; approaching the sideline with impending contact, he reels the ball into his frame quickly to secure possession. Good adjustment to catch on the move toward the sideline. (Mental processing, separation quickness, hands, adjustment)

Context: Purdue v. OSU, Week 9, November 13, 2021. 1st and 10 @ OSU 36

Analysis: Like the previous play, Olave displays very good mental processing. Facing soft-press man coverage, Olave utilizes an outside speed release at the line of scrimmage. Olave knows that he is running a comeback route and facing man coverage. So as Olave begins to accelerate and climb vertically in his stem, he sells the go-route with a hand raise, before breaking into his comeback. The subtlety of the hand raise is a very good tool because that is a key for defensive backs that the ball is on its way to your receiver, and as you see, the corner turns his head to look for the ball. Olave completes this play with good change of direction and balance at the breakpoint, good hands catch on the sideline, and good adjustment to a sideline throw to get both of his feet in bounds.

Context: Oregon v. OSU, Week 2, September 11, 2021. 2nd and 9 @ OSU 33

Analysis: Olave has some level of comfortability running in-breaking routes. Because of his speed, Olave is able to get off a very good release against soft-press coverage. Olave threatens the corner immediately due to his speed, as the corner declares his hips and is getting ready to run with Olave. He utilizes good quickness and change of direction at the top of the route, allowing him to cross the defender’s face and win inside on the slant route. He also shows good mental processing to quickly break his route off and get into the scramble drill with his quarterback.

Context: Oregon v. OSU, Week 2, September 11, 2021. 1st and 10 @ OSU 40.

Analysis: One of the best routes that Olave runs is off of his speed cuts. On this rep, Olave is facing an off-zone defender, so he has to immediately close the cushion in order to win on this play. Olave displays elite-level acceleration at the line of scrimmage, which effectively threatens the cornerback, giving him very little time to adjust appropriately. Olave displays a very good change of direction and balance at the breakpoint on his speed out, and because he is able to maintain a good level of speed, he easily creates separation. Olave then has very good sideline awareness as he extends hands outside of his frame for a catch on the move, and a very good sideline adjustment getting both feet in bounds for a reception.

Weaknesses

Context: UMD v. OSU, Week 5, October 9, 2021. 1st and 10 @ MD 38.

Analysis: Yards after the catch is a critical evaluation factor for every receiver or tight end, and for Olave, one of the more significant issues he has is after the catch. Here, Olave has a very good release against bail coverage. Using acceleration and good mental processing to attack the defender’s blind spot, Olave wins the rep with good change of direction at the breakpoint for his curl. However, Olave goes down on his own versus utilizing any athletic traits to make a defender miss, specifically the sideline defender, which could have given the OSU offense a shorter distance to the endzone if he was successful.

Context: Oregon v. OSU, Week 2, September 11, 2021. 2nd and 13 @ ORE 44.

Analysis: In this example, Olave has a good release at the line of scrimmage. However, he displays a below-average level of mental processing as he loses his line on the drag route and ultimately catches the ball near the line of scrimmage. Because he has elite-level acceleration and foot speed, he can quickly gain ground and get the first down. However, Olave leaves additional yards on the field by not taking advantage of the space inside of the lead block he has on the sideline. Instead, Olave chooses to go out of bounds after the catch.

Context: MSU v. OSU Week 10, November 20, 2021. 1st and 10 @ MSU 36.

Analysis: This example is similar to the first one; instead of challenging the sideline defender, Olave turns inside and gives himself up shortly after the catch.

Scheme Fit

Olave is a starting level Z receiver that you will win with in a vertical offense that allows him to run in the intermediate and deep-level routes (curls, comebacks, speed outs, post, flys), allowing him to manipulate his speed.

Projection

Olave will win with elite acceleration and foot speed that will allow him to be a difficult matchup against defenders in most man coverage concepts. Olave has a good understanding of how to manipulate his speed, which creates challenges for opponents in how they plan for him at the line of scrimmage. He can effectively speed release to the outside or set them up and manipulate their hips if the defender compromises their technique at a given moment. He has average-level mental processing in his ability to diagnose coverage concepts or coverage techniques used against him, but shows he can adjust to attack defenders’ leverage with speed or work well in their blind spots. At the breakpoint, his athletic ability is really on display. His foot speed and acceleration stand out the most, but he has good change of direction and balance, which makes him effective on speed outs, comebacks, and curls. Olave is as competitive as it gets with the ball in the air. Olave has elite-level ball tracking and adjustment ability to come down with various passes (high, low, behind, and contested) and has the necessary awareness to work sidelines on fades, comebacks, or back-shoulder catches. Olave’s hands are elite, too, he has a great catch radius and soft hands with highlight-reel catches on his resume to show for it.

Olave will struggle as a separator with his play strength. In situations against soft-press or squat defenders, Olave was unsuccessful in clearing defenders who could get inside his chest, and he ultimately shut his route down in these instances. Olave will also struggle to win in contested situations consistently due to below-average hand strength, defenders are able to break up passes at the catch point when they are in position. Olave displays minimal YAC ability after the catch. Olave does not present a threatening ability to make multiple defenders miss after the catch because he lacks elusive or physical traits as a runner. In turn, Olave would not be effective at the line of scrimmage as a screen or reverse option. Additionally, Olave is not an effective run blocker, which may limit the packages he is used in on the next level.

Conclusion: Chris Olave is a top-three deep threat receiver in this draft class and arguably the best receiver in this regard. For Washington, offensive coordinator Scott Turner and quarterback Carson Wentz can benefit from Olave’s playstyle opposite of Terry McLaurin because of his effectiveness at the third level of defenses. He has the separation quickness to win the majority of the matchups he will go up against and has the change-up ability to create matchup problems that can be taken advantage of with above-average quarterback play. The potential problem with Olave on the next level will be his frame and play strength. Olave may face significant issues against physical and technically-sound cornerbacks on the next level.

Games watched: OSU v. Minnesota, Week 1, September 2, 2021; Oregon v. OSU, Week 2, September 11, 2021; UMD v. OSU, Week 5, October 9, 2021; Purdue v. OSU, Week 9, November 13, 2021; MSU v. OSU Week 10, November 20, 2021.

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