While one priority in building a roster is accumulating talent, it also takes work to build chemistry between players within that team. You can’t just throw a bunch of talented players together in a locker room and expect them to work themselves into a great team.
That’s one of the reasons that wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase was so attractive as an option for the fifth-overall pick for the Cincinnati Bengals this past April. Put simply enough, they already know that he has a great on-field chemistry with their quarterback, Joe Burrow, since they did it together at the college level.
“I feel like I’ve seen the 2019 LSU season more than I’ve watched our own stuff, considering the amount of prospects they’ve had come through two years in a row now”, Bengals head coach Zac Taylor said following the first round after they picked up Chase.
“Again, there is a lot of work to be done”, he added. “This is the NFL. It isn’t college, and he’s going to have to walk in and really work to regain that chemistry with Joe and the rest of our offense. But at the same time, you can visualize what it’s going to look like with Joe at quarterback”.
Not only has it been over a year since he’s caught a pass from Burrow, it’s actually been a year since he’s done anything in a game. He opted not to play this pats season in order to focus on moving on to his professional career, not specifically due to Covid-19, though given where he was picked up, it obviously did not hurt his draft stock.
But it’s not like he left anything on the table yet to prove. His 2019 season with Burrow was beyond phenomenal. He caught 84 passes for 1780 yards and 20 touchdown receptions, averaging 21.2 yards per reception, which is just straight up video game numbers.
Now he’s the NFL’s problem, and specifically the AFC North teams. It remains to be seen whatever rust he might have to knock off after taking a year off, but it will help that he’ll have Burrow throwing the ball to him and vice versa.
The Bengals certainly needed another significant addition to their receiving unit to pair with Tyler Boyd and last year’s second-round pick, Tee Higgins, and Chase gives them what is potentially a very strong three-deep group, with the newcomer likely to quickly establish himself as the centerpiece.