In our Scouting Reports, we will give you a quick debrief to get you the information you need to know. We’ll also take it a step further and provide an in-depth review showing off examples of what we like, and what we don’t. Included is a date from the initial scouting report, this is so new notes can be added as the year goes on. Those new notes will be dated as well. With that, welcome to the Chris Olave scouting report!
Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson made a dynamic duo at Ohio State, with Jaxon Smith-Njigba taking the reins next year. How was Ohio State able to comfortably sustain three receivers at once? Each of them is talented. Let’s take a look at Olave.
Details: Chris Olave | WR | Ohio State #2
DOB: 06.27.2000 | 21 years old
H/W: 6’ | 187 lbs
NFL Draft Projection:
Mid 1st – Mid 2nd round Pick – Olave is a solid receiver prospect; smooth in his routes with great catch ability. Not only is he fast, he shows great body control in his routes to make sudden moves at speed and without losing speed.
Dynasty Rookie Draft Projection – 1QB:
Mid/Late 1st round pick – His draft stock could bump higher with a great landing spot. When considering position scarcity of running backs – who always rise at draft time – and the other stud WRs in this class, Olave will likely go between pick 7 and 12.
Dynasty Rookie Draft Projection – Superflex/2QB:
Late 1st/Early 2nd round pick – SF/2QB throw another position into the mix, pushing Olave’s draft position down a bit. If three or four quarterbacks get taken in the 1st round, that would move Olave into the range of pick 10 to pick 16.
Olave is an excellent receiver. He’s an incredibly well rounded prospect: he runs great routes, has excellent hands, is typically very good against zone, and looks to be the most quarterback friendly receiver late in his route – always coming back to the quarterback.
His route running is incredibly fluid. Whether he’s fooling DBs by running different routes off the same release, or stemming his route to create an unintentional pick, or flying out of a speed cut, Olave regularly finds himself with tons of separation.
He’s not perfect. Olave can give DBs indicators before his break, and he often fails to stack the DB on vertical routes. And though he’s fast, he doesn’t consistently separate from DBs on go routes down the sideline.
However, Olave’s hands are glue. He shows outstanding ball tracking and feather-soft hands, but most impressive is his ability to wait until the last possible moment to extend and make the catch. This nearly eliminates any opportunity for defenders to make a play.
While he’s typically very good at finding the soft spot against zone and adjusting his route accordingly, there was one game in particular where Olave settled squarely in the worst spot, or went running his route directly into a zone. Given that this was just one of the five games I watched, it’s barely noteworthy.
By far my favorite trait is how he finishes his routes. Every single route, from a drag to a comeback, Olave makes his way back to the ball. This makes it easier on the quarterback, and significantly harder on the DB. It was amazing how consistently this happened, and gives the ultimate “quarterback’s best friend” vibe. PPR leagues take note.
When you take all of those traits and add good speed and burst, he’s going to be a difficult receiver to cover. I think his best opportunity to abuse DBs will be if he’s drafted to be a team’s WR2, like Ridley when Julio was dominant.
You may have heard this before. Chris Olave is fast. Not 4.26 fast…but he’s fast. What’s more, he’s fast in pads.
I want to show this clip first just to get this out of the way. He doesn’t win every route, even vertical routes, but his speed is fluid and effortless. See this first clip showing off Olave’s speed, the Michigan State cornerback might as well have stayed on the bus.
Our next play, from later in the same game, shows why speed is so dangerous. Olave runs a simple curl route against cover 3, but look at how much respect – and space – the cornerback is giving him.
By the time the ball arrives, the corner is still eight yards away from Olave, which is enough space to make the catch and drive forward for extra yards.
Olave’s fluidity and ability to separate with speed puts many defenders on their heels, allowing for easier plays underneath. It’s a no-win scenario for many DBs who can’t play tight without risking being burned; that extra cushion is enough to give up easy yards.
With that out of the way, let’s be very clear, most pass defenses are not Michigan State pass defenses (sorry Spartan fans). Let’s take a look at how Olave fares in other games.
In our next clip, we see two plays. Olave lines up against 5-star recruit Dontae Manning (CB #8) on both plays, and uses the same release on both plays, but with two different routes.
First play, Olave is lined up field-side in a fairly tight split. Watch the release. He high-steps his inside leg then bursts hard to the outside off of it. Considering the alignment and how much space he has to the boundary, the corner turns and bites on the vertical, leaving Olave free to cut underneath.
CJ Stroud (QB #7) reads the other side of the field before seeing an open running lane, so Olave doesn’t get the ball. He then carries the broken play upfield – getting open a second time – through Stroud again doesn’t get him the ball, choosing to run for the first down instead.
It’s unfortunate that Olave beats his defender twice and doesn’t have anything to show for it. However, that’s not the point of this video.
Watch the release for the second play too. It’s a wider split on the boundary side of the field. Olave sets up Dontae Manning (CB #8) with the same inside leg high-step, but actually runs a vertical route this time.
At first Manning is caught waiting for the underneath route, because Olave used the same move earlier in the game and beat Manning with it. In the final frames you can see from this camera angle, Olave is already even. You know the phrase, “if he’s even, he’s leavin'”.
To his credit, Manning recovers nicely and stays fairly tight to Olave’s hip pocket, though the earlier release very likely factored into his hesitation.
I caught this a couple times. Olave sets up the DB with a specific look or move, only to take advantage later in the game by mixing it up. This kind of savvy, creativity, and forethought can give Olave an edge against any defender.
There were multiple creative methods Olave gained an edge against defenders. Our next clip showed how he uses his stem along with the route combination to win against this Minnesota DB.
On this play we see an “Ohio” route concept; a vertical from the outside receiver combined with an out from the slot. Olave is running the vertical against soft-press. He knows the DB is going to mirror off the snap and try to jam as he gets close.
Knowing this, Olave initially angles his stem inside and sells it with his whole body. This forces the DB to shuffle inside, and, when the DB shoots his hands to reroute, Olave cuts under the jam with a nice swipe and takes the outside lane.
It’s a nice one-step move to get the outside, but it also nearly caused the two defenders to trip each other up. The inside stem turned vert, combined with the out-route from the slot, nearly forced a DB collision and a huge broken play.
Unfortunately this is another “win” that doesn’t show up on the stat sheet for Olave, as Stroud decides to hit the tight end instead.
Olave’s “wins” aren’t always overlooked. In fact, he picked up a number of key receptions, and was often Stroud’s primary read.
Heading back to the game against Oregon, we’ll see a very long third down at a key moment in the game. Ohio State is down by two scores late in the third quarter, and they’re breathing down Oregon’s neck hoping to pick one up here.
This time, Stroud locks onto Olave from the start. Olave is Stroud’s one and only read… that shows a significant amount of trust, and the fact that it came on such a critical play is telling of the relationship between the two, and of Olave’s talent.
Running an out route against cover 3 can be tough. It’s a long throw and the DB gets to see everything as he keeps the play in front of him. If the route or the throw take too long, there’s lots of time and space for the DB to pick it off. How do you prevent that?…speed.
Lining up field-side in a tight split, he attacks the DBs leverage, forcing the DB to get depth. This gives Olave the space needed to speed cut, minimizing the break to maintain his speed as he angles himself to the sideline. Stroud makes a huge throw from the far hash, but the timing is perfect.
My only real gripe here is how Olave’s arms go dead during the break. It’s very minor, but keeping his arms ripping throughout would help him to keep his speed up even more.
That said, he burns through the route and shows excellent extension to make the catch at just the right time. Thanks to Olave’s aggressive route and Stroud’s cannon arm, the DB didn’t have chance to attack the ball.
One of the reasons Olave continued to be heavily targeted, even with Wilson and Smith-Njigba there, was due to his excellent ability to reel the ball in. He shows phenomenal concentration and ball tracking to go along with soft hands.
In the below clip, I’ve compiled just a few of Olave’s receptions from three of the five games I watched. Each of these show the traits mentioned above.
Watch how he shoots his hands late to limit the defender’s time to react; watch how every catch is extended away from his body; watch his eyes and hands as he tracks each of the throws into soft hands.
I tracked one very catchable ball dropped during these five games, so I can’t say he’s 100% reliable. However, he shows to have desired traits to secure passes thrown his way, and certainly more often than not.
I think my favorite trait from watching Olave is seeing his consistency in coming back to the quarterback to create additional separation and ease the throw. I tracked this quarterback-friendly move on basically every underneath route: drag, dig, out, hitch, curl, and obviously the comeback.
You can see it in the video against Michigan State, where the defender gave massive cushion. I’ve put a couple other examples in the below video too.
The first clip of the video below shows an 8 yard out route where Olave comes back a yard to create space and secure the reception and the first down. The second clip shows a drag route as he actually comes back across the line of scrimmage to make the catch, before turning on the burners to gain YAC for another first down.
I did come out with one knock on Olave, something which happened multiple times in the games I watched. He doesn’t always consistently stay selling his vertical route, lifting up his chest and shoulders before the break. To a DB, this is a dead-giveaway that they don’t have to be concerned with a vertical route.
Lucky for Olave in this next clip, he’s going up against Michigan State (…again, sorry Spartan fans). He’s running a 12 yard curl against man coverage, specifically against an outside leverage defender. At the next level, the DB is going to have a great shot to try and knock this ball away.
What’s unfortunate is that it’s not even late in the route. Olave pops up about halfway in, then chops his feet to slow himself, leaning hard to the inside to make this turn. An NFL defender may not get a pick here, but playing over the top, with the chest-lift, and the hard inside lean…a solid DB can play this really tight.
Thankfully, Olave is excellent at coming back to the ball, and he does so here once again. This creates space that he didn’t get from the route itself, and allows him to secure this reception.
All told, Olave is definitely among the top receivers in the ’22 NFL draft. He’s extremely well rounded; a solid route runner, great hands, and does many of the little things right.
Personally, I think he will find the most immediate success as a team’s second receiver. Drawing more advantageous matchups on any given week is sure to help any receiver, but it’s noteworthy that Olave was never the “alpha” which requires teams dedicate additional resources to covering. That assuredly allowed for some of the minor indicator problems to fester.
Having said that, I also think Olave has the potential to be a faster Jarvis Landry; excelling in the “quarterback’s best friend” role underneath, but with enough speed to be a threat over the top as well.
The Packers are an obvious choice for any receiver with late 1st creds, and any receiver who becomes Rodgers’ guy would automatically get their stock bumped a bit.
How high do you see Olave going in the NFL Draft? Drop a comment in the comment box below to let us know your thoughts!
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