Cincinnati Bengals rookie wideout Ja’Marr Chase, already the recipient of one Offensive Rookie of the Year Award, figures to chart as one of, if not one of the best rookies of 2021.
But not everyone would agree that Chase was one of the top two rookies from this past season.
Over at ESPN, Jeff Legwold compiled final 2021 rookie rankings and slotted Chase fifth, writing the following:
“Chase was a problem for defenses early in the season (101 yards in Week 1), in the middle of the season (201 yards in Week 7) and late in the season (266 yards in Week 17). Flowers and well-wishes to the AFC North defensive backs for, well, years to come. As he and quarterback Joe Burrow continue to build on what they’ve already done, more days like the rookie-record 266-yard effort against the Chiefs in the second-to-last game of the regular season are possible. His 1,455 receiving yards were the most for a rookie in the Super Bowl era, and before you point to the extended regular season, he actually broke the record in Week 17.”
For those curious, the players ranked in front of Chase:
Dallas LB Micah Parsons
Patriots QB Mac Jones
Chargers OT Rashawn Slater
Chiefs C Creed Humphrey
What’s interesting is the rankings seem to include opinions of NFL personnel: “…we polled personnel executives around the league to get their thoughts and worked our way through game tape to make the list.”
The players ranked above Chase were admittedly outstanding, though Jones seems to get a bit of a boost from the position he plays more than anything else, especially after a poor finish to the season.
Chase has a legitimate case for No. 1 given he just put up the best rookie season for a wideout likely only surpassed by Randy Moss. He shattered droves of records along the way, has put up 200-plus yards in a pair of playoff games and is the main reason the Bengals offense is competitive at all.
Bengals fans have it good, at least — the fact their first-round pick getting ranked fifth overall is a very controversial development is nothing but a good thing.