Not needing a quarterback after drafting Joe Burrow at No. 1 overall last year, the Bengals had every player in the draft but tight end Kyle Pitts available to them at No. 5 overall last week.
They chose LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, reuniting him with Burrow after the pair won a national championship together.
While Burrow wasn’t campaigning for his team to select Chase, the quarterback really didn’t have to. Though many thought Cincinnati would select an offensive lineman to protect Burrow — particularly after the QB tore his ACL and MCL last season — head coach Zac Taylor feels Chase can make a special impact on the offense.
“Everybody was happy with the result and understands what this guy is going to do for us,” Taylor said, via Paul Dehner Jr. of TheAthletic.com. “We take Ja’Marr Chase because you think he’s going to be one of the all-time great receivers here over the next 10-15 years. You don’t want to be influenced by, ‘Is there a lineman there in the second round?’ If you think this guy is as good as we think he is, we just need to get him on the football team.”
Still, with a deep class of offensive linemen, Cincinnati was able to land Clemson’s Jackson Carman at No. 46 overall. The opportunity to select a player like that later solidified the choice of Chase.
“This year, consequently, just happened we knew there would be a good group of linemen there in the second round we knew we could get,” Taylor said. “If you knew this player would turn out to be A.J. Green, what would make you pass on him? If you look back on his career and say he’s going to have the same impact and career that A.J. Green had, what makes you say let’s pass on him and go get this other guy because there’s not a lineman you like in the second round — knowing what you know about A.J. Green. To me, that weighs into it a little bit, this is the impact we think this guy is going to have on us.”
After 10 seasons, 649 receptions, 9,430 yards, and 65 touchdowns with the Bengals, Green signed with the Cardinals as a free agent in March. But if Chase can become as productive as Green, who began his career with five consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, then there will be no doubt the LSU wideout was the right choice.