Matt Waldman’s RSP Boiler Room: WR Ja’Marr Chase (LSU): When You Can’t Separate the Technician from the Athlete

Matt Waldman’s RSP Boiler Room attempts a discussion about LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase’s athletic traits, but the technician can’t be removed so easily from the NFL Draft prospect’s game. 

These days, much of my football analysis has been a categorization of traits, techniques, and strategies. I often isolate these things on the tape as the sole subject of discussion.

This is what I attempted to do with Ja’Marr Chase on this reception against Texas in 2019 where he beats the cornerback with a double move and leaps back to the defender and pulls the ball away from his opponent in spectacular fashion. While it’s an absolute demonstration of acceleration, stop-start quickness, long speed, leaping ability, and hand-eye coordination, the false break, late hands, jump-back, and pull-down are all notable techniques that are just as important to the success of the play.

This was an observation that I had this morning as I watched this video a few weeks after making, and it led to an important realization about player evaluation: When you have consistent difficulty separating a player’s athletic ability from his technique because the technical aspects of his game continue seeping back into your analysis, it’s a great indicator that there’s a depth of refinement to that player’s game.

This is without a doubt true with Chase.

If you truly know about the variety of techniques for wide receivers, then you know that it’s easier to separate the athlete from the technician in the college game than the NFL. More frequently, you’ll see college receivers lean more on athletic ability than technique to win a play.

It’s rarer in the NFL. So when you cannot find as many plays where a player is winning mostly due to his athletic ability, it’s an encouraging sign for his NFL future. Chase, and other players where it’s difficult to separate the athlete from the technician, may require additional refinement to have success against more technically and athletically sound NFL players but they’re usually much closer to doing so than all but the rarest of athletes.

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