Once the Cincinnati Bengals knew they were picking fifth in the 2021 NFL Draft, the debate that raged amongst the fanbase, the media, and more was who should they take? LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase or Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell? With QB Joe Burrow in the middle of rehab for a shredded knee thanks mostly to offensive line incompetence, the answer was simple right? Take the best offensive line prospect in the class.
The problem with that simplicity was that Penei Sewell had never played anywhere other than left tackle. The Bengals had Jonah Williams entrenched at left tackle and had just brought in free agent Riley Reiff to play right tackle. If they drafted Sewell, he would likely start at right guard, a position he had never played.
The other option was selecting Ja’Marr Chase. A receiver who, like Sewell, sat out the 2020 collegiate season. Chase dominated the SEC along with Bengals QB Joe Burrow in 2019. On the way to the national championship. The production Chase had as a 19-year-old was ridiculous. Then he ran a 4.3 forty at his pro day and hoooo boy.
Did they draft Chase to appease Burrow…maybe? But it was the right decision to make.
I went on radio shows across the nation and multiple podcasts and told everyone that I was Team Chase. Ridicule was thrown my way. Condemnation was not unheard of. “How could the Bengals draft a wide receiver?” “You saw what happened to Joe Burrow, right?!” My stance was simple, drafting a player like Ja’Marr Chase changes the offense more than any offensive linemen could. Plus, they had 7 other picks. The Bengals could surely add offensive linemen then. I had to defend this stance across the airwaves after the draft.
And the preseason came upon us. Ja’Marr Chase dropped a bunch of passes. He is a bust already you would hear.
Cue the regular season. And Ja’Marr Chase is taking the top off of every defense they have played. Completely transforming the Bengals’ offense. Erasing narratives everywhere along the way. Leaving records in his wake. Chase has more receiving yards than any receiver through his first seven games in NFL history. The last time I checked, they have been playing NFL football for a long time.
One of the greatest receivers of all time, Randy Moss, is in awe of Chase.
He has won the NFL Rookie of the Week Award four times in the first seven weeks, including three in a row. He was named the AFC Player of the Week in Week Seven after torching the Baltimore Ravens for 2021 receiving yards.
Chase has amassed 754 yards on 35 catches and six touchdowns to date. He is on pace to obliterate the rookie receiving record set by his former LSU teammate Justin Jefferson just one year ago.
Ja’Marr Chase has helped change the way the national media think about the Cincinnati Bengals. The team who is now the #1 seed in the AFC after seven weeks. The team who is seven points away from being unbeaten. Ja’Marr Chase is helping make the country believers in what the Bengals can be. As one of the riders on the original Team Chase Bus, I am here for it.