In this series, Pete Hailey will preview 11 players whom the Commanders could select with the 11th overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.
Next up: Receiver Chris Olave.
Background: Will turn 22 in June... 6-foot, 187-pound pass-catcher... San Ysidro, California native... Played four years at Ohio State... 65 catches for 936 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2021... Finished career as the school's all-time leader in touchdown receptions.
Biggest strength: There are guys who simply run fast and then guys who can actually use that speed to consistently generate field-flipping catches. Olave firmly fits into the second category because he does all the little things well on top of having sub-4.4 speed.
Now, what are some of those little things?
Scouting reports on Olave gush about how easily he gets off the line and quickly beats corners with his release techniques. He's also praised for how well he tracks the ball in the air and knows when he has to pick up the pace or throttle down in order to grab it in stride. Lastly, he often puts his hands up for the catch just in time, which keeps trailing defensive backs from getting a read on when they should get theirs up, too.
Overall, Olave's the kind of target that NFL defenses will always have to monitor, from the first snap to the final one.
"You give him a crack and he's gone," Ohio State beat writer Bill Rabinowitz told the Washington Football Talk podcast recently.
Biggest question mark: There's plenty of polish in Olave's game, but there isn't much power. While a host of burners have succeeded as a pro without being bruisers, there is concern that Olave's lack of physicality could be exploited by opponents.
Whether it's in contested situations, tackle-breaking opportunities or run-blocking sequences, Olave can get bullied and outmatched. Of course, none of those things matter all that much when he dusts a secondary for a 65-yard house call, but they will be an issue when he's facing larger corners or aiming to shake a safety with the ball in his hands.
As Rabinowitz said on the podcast, Olave is not a "one-trick pony," meaning he doesn't just make a living on go routes; those are his specialty, sure, but he's also a nightmare on double moves and out-breaking patters toward the sideline. However, he's never going to overwhelm his man with his body, which could cause him to be invisible at times on Sundays.
Potential fit in Washington: NFL.com's player comparison for Chris Olave is Terry McLaurin, and if that proves to be true, whatever team lands Olave is going to be extremely pleased — including Terry McLaurin's team.
Though USC's Drake London would introduce more variety to the Commanders' receiving corps thanks to his 6-foot-4 frame and high-pointing talents, Olave would serve as another McLaurin-type threat due to his more finesse approach. Not that there's anything wrong with that, by the way.
Taking Olave at 11 may be viewed as a slight reach by some, but he'd instantly step in across McLaurin and next to Curtis Samuel to round out the offense and expand that unit's explosiveness. He'd benefit from adding a bit of muscle and toughness in Washington, but Washington would absolutely benefit from his numerous skills, many of which are already quite developed and mature.
Random and probably ultimately useless fact that's being included in this story anyway: Olave once hauled in two scores and blocked a punt for the Buckeyes against rival Michigan. Thanks to that single outing, it's very possible that he'll never have to buy a drink, a meal, a tank of gas or anything else worth any sort of monetary value again in the state of Ohio.
Previous profiles: WR Treylon Burks | CB Trent McDuffie | S Kyle Hamilton | LB Devin Lloyd | WR Garrett Wilson | WR Drake London | CB Derek Stingley Jr.