Ohio State wide receiver Chris Olave was widely considered to be the top wide receiver prospect in the nation before the 2021 season. And despite Olave not doing anything to damage his reputation, his star has faded a bit over the course of the 2022 NFL Draft process.
Olave’s teammate, Garrett Wilson, emerged this past year, as did former teammate Jameson Williams who had a spectacular season after transferring to Alabama. Olave is still well regarded, but he has lost ground to some of his peers.
It’s also possible that Olave has been well regarded for long enough that recency bias is working against him. The receivers to step up this year are more exciting because their break-out seasons are fresh in everyone’s memory — Olave being good is old hat.
But that could work to the advantage of a team like the New York Giants, who could use a wide receiver but might not be able to select one at the very top of the draft. Could Olave sliding down draft boards a bit make him a value trade for some lucky team later in the first round?
Prospect: Chris Olave (2)
Games Watched: vs. Minnesota (2021), vs. Oregon (2021), vs. Michigan State (2021), vs. Michigan (2021)
Games Played: 38
Yards (YPC): 2,705 (15.4 per catch)
Total Touchdowns: 35
Games Played: 11
Yards (YPC): 936 (14.4 per catch)
Total Touchdowns: 13
Best: Football IQ, experience, athleticism, versatility, ball skills
Worst: Size, play strenght
Projection: A starting receiver with positional and scheme versatility
(Olave is Ohio State receiver number 2)
Chris Olave is an experienced, athletic, smart, and versatile wide receiver prospect from Ohio State University.
Olave primarily aligned as an outside receiver in Ohio State’s offense, lining up both on and off of the line of scrimmage, though he did occasionally take snaps out of the slot.
Olave features a sudden, efficient release off of the line of scrimmage. He wastes no motion getting into his route, with instant acceleration against off or zone coverage and crisp footwork against tight man coverage. Olave has great acceleration as well as stop-start quickness, allowing him to manipulate the stems of his routes to great effect. He not only presses his stems vertically to force cornerbacks to flip their hips early when he is running comeback routes, but he also manipulates his speed or stride length and tempo to throw off defenders’ timing on deeper routes.
Olave is a precision route runner who is always at the right place at the right time on timing routes. His breaks are sharp and he understands how to find voids in zone coverage. He has great ball skills, easily locating the ball in the air, tracking it down the field, making necessary adjustments, and executing clean “hands” catches. Olave typically flashes his hands late in the route whenever possible, giving defenders as little warning as possible when he is making receptions.
Olave also plays well without the ball. His route running and football IQ show up when he isn’t a primary read in route combinations. He does a good job of selling all of his routes, forcing defenders to respect them and creating voids for his teammates – or responsibility conflicts for defenders. Likewise, Olave is a solid blocker for his teammates. He is willing to get his hands dirty and generally blocks with good technique and tenacity.
But while Olave is a generally solid blocker, he definitely lacks mass compared to other outside receivers. At 6-foot, 187 pounds, he is on the slender side for an NFL wide receiver, and that shows up at points in his game. He does a good job of putting his body between defenders and the ball, but he can be out-muscled in contested catch situations and as a blocker.
Overall Grade: 8.3
Chris Olave projects as a starting receiver at the NFL level with the versatility to play in any professional passing scheme.
Olave’s skill set will likely be maximized in an offense that’s based on West Coast, Air Raid, or Spread principles. Those offenses would likely make full use of his route running, both as a primary read and as a part of larger route concepts. They’re also less likely to put Olave in positions where his size is much of a factor – while also taking advantage of his athleticism. Olave should still be able to find a home in more traditional vertical passing offenses (such as an Air Coryell scheme), but he would likely be limited to more of a “slot only” role.
Olave comes into the NFL as a pro-ready route runner with the technique and athleticism to be a problem for offenses right away. Considering how many NFL offenses are incorporating collegiate concepts, Olave is one of the receivers who should have a minimal learning curve as he enters the NFL.
Teams that are specifically looking for larger receivers, or for whom perimeter blocking is at a premium, might not have Olave graded as highly as some other receivers in this draft class. However, from a pure pass catching stand-point, Olave can stand with any of his peers.