WIDE RECEIVER, OHIO STATE, ELIGIBLE FOR 2022 NFL DRAFT
Chris Olave is a 6’1” and 188 lbs. three-star wide receiver for the Ohio State Buckeyes. He was the WR61 and 399th overall prospect from the 2021 class. Olave decided to return to Ohio State for the 2021 season.
PAST PRODUCTION (COLLEGE STATS)
In his true freshman season, Olave caught 12 passes for 197 yards and three TDs. Within the context of the Ohio State offense, he accounted for 3.9% of their receiving yardage and 6% of their receiving scoring. This equates to a 5% dominator rating and a 4.3% adjusted dominator rating. Olave also averaged 0.36 yards per team pass attempt. While these figures do not surpass the 25% dominator rating threshold for a true breakout. His yards per catch average was 17.6, where above 16 is a statistically significant indicator for an NFL player’s deep-threat ability. The 2018 Ohio State team also had Terry McLaurin, Parris Campbell, K.J. Hill, and J.K. Dobbins, all current NFL players, with who Olave was competing for targets.
In his sophomore season, Olave caught 45 passes for 790 yards and 11 TDs. Olave emerged as Justin Fields trusted pass-catcher as Ryan Day implemented his new offense. Olave accounted for 23.5% of the receiving yardage and 23.4% of the receiving scoring. This equates to a 23.4% dominator rating, and a 23.5% adjusted dominator rating. Still not enough to surpass the threshold for a breakout season.
In his true junior season, Olave may have been surpassed by Garrett Wilson, as the WR1 in Columbus, however, Olave finally broke out from an analytical perspective. In Ohio State’s seven games, Olave caught 50 passes for 729 yards and seven TDs. This would extrapolate out to a 92-catch season with over 1,300 receiving yards and 13 TDs. Olave accounted for 34.7% of the receiving yardage, and31.8% of the receiving scoring. This equates to a 33.3% dominator rating, and a 34.1% adjusted dominator rating.
Since 2015, only two other Power Five programs had multiple receivers break the 30% dominator rating threshold on the same team as Olave and Wilson did in 2020. In 2019, Rashod Bateman and Tyler Johnson of Minnesota, and in 2016, Christian Kirk and Josh Reynolds of Texas A&M also achieved this task.
Returning for a senior season is typically not a savvy investment for wide receivers, however, seeing the meteoric rise that DeVonta Smith was able to achieve may be where Olave’s intentions lie. Similar to Smith last offseason, Olave was being mocked as a fringe first-round selection, just as Smith was before he announced that he would be returning to school. While it may be crass to project a season that would be such an outlier, Olave’s junior season stats compare favorably to Smith’s.
Olave’s junior season advanced metrics compare favorably to Smith’s. Both receivers head into their senior season with a new starting quarterback in control of the offense. However, unlike Alabama who had two ride receivers drafted in the first round of last year’s NFL Draft. Olave’s two major target competitors in Garrett Wilson and Jeremy Ruckert will be playing in Columbus in 2021. It is very unlikely that Olave will put up DeVonta Smith level numbers.
What’s the outlook for the next 3-5 years?
Chris Olave is currently being selected at the middle of the second round of devy drafts, which both are priced at his current age-adjusted production, but also offer an opportunity to gain value throughout the 2021 season. Olave is most likely to be a fringe first-round receiver in the 2022 draft and will be a second-round pick in rookie drafts at this point next off-season.
Olave does not have any elite athletic traits, he wins with precise route running and playing strong at the catch point. While wide receivers who have a similar frame to Olave, do not typically pan out at the NFL level, there is one comparison that Olave fits the mold of in Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson. However, if Olave were to add some bulk to his frame in the off-season, he gets some more recent favorable comparisons to Tyler Boyd, Nate Burleson, and CeeDee Lamb.
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