30 Jul Chris Olave, Ohio State
Senior (4Sr) | 6′ 188 | San Ysidro, California | 6/27/2000
A wide receiver with an excellent understanding of the more nuanced technical aspects of the position, but lacks the elite physical traits to be a #1 wide receiver in the NFL.
Chris Olave relatively flew under the radar as a high-three-star recruit, earning offers from primarily Mountain West and Pac-12 programs, but also a handful of Big Ten schools. Even though he entered a loaded receiver room at Ohio State (Parris Campbell, KJ Hill, Terry McLaurin), Olave earned playing time as a true freshman in 2018, seeing action in nine games. In 2019, Olave began the year as a rotational player, primarily playing outside and on special teams. But halfway through the year, he earned the starting job and never gave it up. Olave returned as OSU’s #1 wide receiver in 2020. Despite missing one game, he led the Buckeyes in targets, catches, yards, and touchdowns during the shortened season.
Olave plays almost exclusively outside but has taken more snaps from the slot every year. He is sent in motion relatively frequently, but not as much as his counterpart Garrett Wilson. Despite the vast majority of his targets coming in the short to intermediate area, all of his touchdowns in 2020 came on deeper targets. He runs a full route tree to all areas of the field and is even occasionally motioned tight to the formation to be used as an insert blocker on run plays.
- Release package is developed and nuanced; rarely faces press coverage, but has very quick feet at the line and is willing to use his hands to deflect DB’s strike. Maintains consistent vertical stem, but has varied ways to shake off-man coverage at the stem point.
- Route-running is very smooth: displays special understanding of how to attack defender’s leverage and use it against them to create separation; understands how to navigate through zones and find openings in the defense.
- Good hands, as he catches well whether he is on the move or stationary and does well to shield the ball from the defender with his body
- Very good body control: consistently catches balls outside his frame with ease; very good at making catches along the sidelines while ensuring feet are in-bounds.
- Effective run-after-catch player: transitions from receiver to runner very quickly; can make a defender miss by manipulating angles and blockers downfield.
- Good run blocker: very willing to engage against second-level defenders, does a solid job framing up opponents and shielding them from the ball-carrier.
- Rotated out of special teams since true freshman year, but has experience there; blocked a punt against Michigan in 2018.
Areas to Improve:
- Not undersized by any means, but has a light frame; lack of size and strength preclude him from being frequently used as a jump-ball / contested-catch receiver.
- Does not have the elite foot speed to outrace defenders vertically or across the middle.
- Not the most explosive athlete, as he does not break off his routes with sharp quickness; will not make multiple defenders miss in space with agility or elusiveness.
- Occasionally lets the ball into his chest instead of extending and catching it with his hands; does not address the ball aggressively at times; struggles in contested catch situations, namely in the air and through contact.
- Ball security was an issue in 2020, recording four fumbles in only seven games.
- No missed games due to injury
- Could not play in 2020 Big Ten Championship due to COVID contact tracing.
Chris Olave’s decision to return to Ohio State in 2021 was somewhat surprising. He was the #1 receiver for the last two years on one of the best teams in college football and his quarterback left for the NFL. But looking at the talent at the position in the previous draft class, it makes a little more sense. Compare that to this season, where Olave has a legitimate argument to be the first receiver off the board. Olave does many things well, especially the little things. Despite lacking elite athleticism, he’s a good route runner that is able to consistently defeat defenders thanks to his exceptional understanding of how to attack and manipulate leverage. Olave has good hands, is a solid run blocker, and has experience on special teams.
With all that being said, it seems unlikely that Olave will be the first wide receiver selected in the 2022 NFL Draft, as he simply lacks the necessary physical traits to be a #1 wide receiver at the NFL level. He’s not exceptionally big or fast, so he will not be a vertical threat at the next level. Additionally, he does not have the explosive athleticism to consistently beat top-level defensive backs. As it is extremely rare for players to overcome such physical “deficiencies”, there isn’t much that Olave can do to change his game. However, if he can put together a third very solid season, he could be a late first-round pick that could stick in this league for a very long time as a reliable WR3.
Mitchell Wolfe is from Central Pennsylvania but loves all things Pittsburgh. He recently earned a Master’s degree in Sport Business with a concentration in Sports Analytics from Temple University. Mitch is a graduate of The Scouting Academy and has worked for Pro Football Focus as well. He is interested in developing ways to incorporate data-based decision-making into the scouting and drafting process. In his spare time, Mitch likes to play video games, read about history, or spend time with his fiance and their pets.