The NFL Scouting Combine is only a small part of the evaluation puzzle for teams and, for as much attention as the event receives, few franchises will make major changes to their board based on workouts. However, the athletic testing prospects participate in can help separate clusters of players at loaded positions such as wide receiver.
It is once again an extremely impressive receiver class with a huge amount of talent at the top and plenty of depth.
Ohio State's Chris Olave is a prospect likely near the top of the draft boards of teams eyeing receiver help but heads into Thursday's workout perhaps needing to separate himself from prospects such as former Buckeye teammate Garrett Wilson and Arkansas' Treylon Burks in the fight to be the first wideout off the board next month.
An extremely detailed route-runner who delivered supremely impressive production with 35 touchdowns in four seasons, Olave does have a trump card as he goes into the Combine: his speed.
Olave's burst and acceleration consistently enabled him to get over the top of defenses when working vertically during his collegiate career and, as Good Morning Football's Peter Schrager said, he is a candidate to run the 40-yard dash in 4.3 seconds.
Great week of @gmfb up ahead. Sunday afternoon watching Chris Olave highlights. Runs 4.3. Great route runner. But does he crack the first round? And Christian Watson, of NDSU, who had an awesome Senior Bowl week. There are 15-20 wide receivers who can be taken in top 4 rounds.— Peter Schrager (@PSchrags) February 27, 2022
Should Olave run a low 4.3 or even a high 4.2, a receiver who has shown complexity in his game in winning with his change of direction skills and his ability to create separation by varying the speed of his routes will have an extremely convincing case for the title of WR1 in this draft for a league where explosive playmakers have never been more valuable.
One prospect I love in the upcoming #NFLDraft is #OhioState WR Chris Olave he’s the best route runner in this class easily and his suddeness on his releases are a chef’s kiss. Just a slight stutter gets the DB to move and he stacks him beautifully for the TD catch pic.twitter.com/EZKBBjJDUH— Evan Brooks (@ebrooks_14) February 28, 2022
There are concerns that Olave won't be able to shake in any workout, such as doubts about his play strength and his proficiency as a run blocker, but those could be marginalized if he lays down a marker on the track and excels in the catching drills, his tape revealed him to be a player who often lets the ball into his body rather than attacking it with his hands.
NFL teams are not afraid to spend high picks on receivers and will likely be emboldened to do so more regularly following the success of 2021 fifth-overall pick Ja'Marr Chase and sixth overall pick Jaylen Waddle.
Olave isn't expected to be taken that high but he is in the mix to succeed Chase as WR1 in 2022, and a starring role in Indianapolis this week may be what tips the balance in his favor.
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