Ohio State has been a wide receiver factory for years now and this time around is no different. The Buckeyes have two potential first-round wideouts entering this year’s NFL Draft, Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave.
While Wilson has been heralded by several scouts as the better overall prospect, Olave was once considered the potential WR1 for the 2022 draft class. So, what happened?
Let’s breakdown Olave’s draft profile and see how he may fit into Nick Sirianni’s offensive system in Philly.
Every wideout in this class brings something different to the table that sets them apart. For Olave, his excellent route running is his calling card.
Not only does he have the quickness and explosiveness to beat corners off the line of scrimmage, he varies his route running tempo and possesses great spatial awareness on the field. He makes crisp, definitive cuts on his routes and he does a nice job of finding the soft spots in coverage.
Olave is truly a route running technician. He uses his entire body to sell routes and he typically leaves corners in no man’s land because of it.
Although Olave isn’t the fastest wideout in this year’s class (that crown belongs to Jameson Williams), he still has plenty of speed and explosiveness. On deep routes, Olave does a great job of tracking balls in the air and adjusting his body to put himself in a favorable position to make the catch. He’s a big play threat through and through. In 2021, 13 of his 65 receptions resulted in scores. Since 2019, he’s recorded the most receptions of 20+ yards in the country.
Like any stout wideout prospect, Olave has reliable hands. He rarely drops anything when he’s in space, posting a drop percentage of 4.9 percent during his time at Ohio State.
Placing this kind of skill set within the Eagles offense should be relatively smooth. Olave does a lot of the same things as DeVonta Smith with his route running acumen, but he brings a level of play making ability that this offense simply doesn’t have right now.
Whether Sirianni wants to line him up at the Z or in the slot, Olave should be productive from day one.
Trying to figure out why Olave went from the potential WR1 in this class to a mid-to-late first-round projection is a bit of a head scratcher. He had his most productive season in 2021, hauling in 65 receptions for 936 yards and 13 touchdowns. On draft night, I think Olave will end up going higher than some fans expect, but he’s not a perfect prospect and there are some areas he could improve upon at the next level.
First, while Olave is a dangerous downfield threat, he hasn’t proven to be a great run after the catch receiver. Most of that comes down to his lacking physicality, something more and more teams are beginning to prioritize in their wideouts. In his collegiate career, Olave only broke 10 tackles on 176 career receptions. He certainly has the speed to break away in the open field, but he hasn’t showcased an array of elusive moves like some of his contemporaries in this class.
His lacking physicality also rears its head in the running game. Olave doesn’t provide much in the downfield blocking department. That may sound like a minor gripe, but it can separate the good receivers from the great ones at the next level.
Adding some muscle mass to his 187 pounds frame would help Olave in the long run, just as long as he maintains his speed and quickness.
Despite some of his physicality issues, there’s a lot to love with Olave’s game. Getting open on a consistent basis is arguably the most valuable trait a receiver can possess in today’s NFL. Regardless of his size, Olave rarely gets manhandled by press corners and once he’s down field, he shakes defenders with his route running better than any receiver in this year’s draft class.
Sirianni values physicality in his receivers, but Olave’s lacking physicality shouldn’t deter the Eagles from taking him in the first-round.
Philly’s offense needs playmakers, that’s the bottom line. And they need guys that can get open consistently. Placing Olave alongside Smith would give the Eagles one of the best route running duos in the NFL for years to come.
He’ll more than likely be available when the Eagles are on the clock come draft night. Don’t be shocked if Olave ends up being the name called.