Chris Olave is one of the top wide receivers in college football. Let’s take a look at what makes him special and what he could bring to the Green Bay Packers.
The wide receiver position is likely going to be atop Brian Gutekunst’s shopping list following the 2021-2022 season. As it stands right now, Amari Rodgers is the only wide receiver on the Green Bay Packers‘ roster that’s under contract following the upcoming season.
In the upcoming months, the Packers general manager will face a lot of difficult decisions regarding the wide receiver room.
Will Gutekunst and the Packers make Davante Adams the highest-paid wide receiver in the National Football League? Will they opt to re-sign Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Allen Lazard? Will Randall Cobb see year two in his return to 1265 Lombardi Avenue?
A lot of what happens with the wide receiver room could be impacted by Aaron Rodgers. If Rodgers is under center for the Packers when the 2022 season kicks off, there is a good chance that Adams is still in Green Bay.
If Rodgers is not back, Gutekunst and Co. may opt to reload at the position by stocking it with young talent via the draft.
Regardless of what plays out, there is one wide receiver that will likely be atop Gutekunst’s board when the 2022 NFL Draft rolls around. That wide receiver is Ohio State’s Chris Olave.
Olave likely would have been a Top 64 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft had he declared. Instead, the Ohio State wide receiver opted to return for his senior season and is one of the top receivers in the 2022 class.
“You have to think Olave saw something with one of these quarterbacks and that’s why he returned to school for another season,” Vinnie Calderone, a contributor for NFL Draft Bible said. “I think Olave will be a safety blanket for either one of them, as he was for Justin Fields. I have no doubt in my mind that Olave will lead the team in catches next season.”
In 2018, Olave was part of a loaded wide receiver room that included Terry McClaurin, K.J. Hill, Parris Campbell, Austin Mack, and Benjamin Victor. Olave finished with three touchdowns during his first season on campus.
The following season, Olave hauled in 48 receptions for 840 yards and 12 touchdowns. This past season, Olave recorded 50 receptions for 729 yards and seven touchdowns.
Olave is NFL-ready. He’s been coached up by former NFL wide receiver Brian Hartline. The Buckeye wide receiver has a Master’s degree in route running.
Olave is silky smooth and understands how to find the weak spots in the secondary. He does a great job of getting open on broken plays.
“What makes Olave so special is his dynamic route running ability,” Calderone said. “He can run virtually any route really well and it stands out on tape. His feet and hips are so smooth through routes that it almost looks like he’s jogging or going through the motions. You can’t teach that type of natural mobility.”
Olave is so smooth in and out of his breaks. There are no wasted movements. The Ohio State wide receiver uses subtle movements in his routes that help him create separation.
The Buckeyes are getting back one of the most, if not the most, refined route-runners in college football. He has generated a step or more of separation on over 87% of his targets since 2019, the highest rate in the country. Against single coverage over the past two seasons, Olave has racked up 15 receptions to result in a 15-plus-yard gain in which he had more than a couple of steps of separation. That trails only Alabama’s DeVonta Smith for the most in the FBS (19) and is five more than the next best Power Five receiver.
Olave has the best release package in college football. He’s so sudden off the line of scrimmage. He’s always open and will be a quarterback’s best friend.
Olave has reliable hands. He plucks the ball out of the air without having to throttle down. He tracks the ball well on deep routes and shows good burst on vertical routes.
“Olave has extremely steady hands, which is part of his reliability,” Calderone said. “He does a nice job of tracking deep balls in the air but also finding a tight window to catch the ball on intermediate routes.”
Olave is not going to make a killing after the catch. He won’t be confused for Laviska Shenault or Deebo Samuel. He’s not a 4.3 athlete and he’s not going to run through defenders. However, he’s a little like Adams after the catch, in which he’s capable of making the first man miss and turn a 10-yard slant into an explosive play.
“After the catch, Olave is not the most gifted player, but he’s no slouch either,” Calderone said. “Without the super speed you see with some receivers, Olave uses his vision to make something happen after the catch. He’s able to find holes in the defense and pick up extra yards.”
Olave is likely going to be a Top 40 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. If the Packers want him, they’ll likely have to select him in the first round.
If Rodgers is back, Olave would be an ideal selection in the first round. He’s NFL-ready with his route running prowess and steady hands.
If it’s Jordan Love under center, Olave would give the first-year starter a reliable wide receiver to grow with.
The 2022 draft is 265 days away and a lot will change with the Packers during that span. The thing that won’t change is Olave being an NFL-ready wide receiver.
If the Packers are going to draft a wide receiver in the first round for the first time since 2002, Olave could be the selection.