It’s only February, but NFL Draft season is in full swing.
PFF.com is going to be stuffed to the gills with content on all of your favorite draft prospects, as PFF draft guru Mike Renner has been grinding tape all throughout the college football season. His work has already produced the second version of PFF’s Draft Guide, available to grab with a PFF Edge or Elite subscription.
Compared to Mike, I’m late to the party when it comes to draft evaluation. Still, I come armed with PFF’s database to help me watch the tape, and I thought we could go through that journey together in this article.
The first player I looked at was Alabama's Devonta Smith, the 2020-21 Heisman Trophy winner. Next up will be the player many, including PFF, rank as the best receiver in the draft class — LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase.
Chase opted out of the 2020 season, choosing to stand on the incredible breakout year he had in 2019. And who could blame him? To get a quick feel for his game, I’m going to fire up every target thrown his way from that national championship season — all 125 of them.
The same caveats as before still apply: This is not a complete picture of his game, as it will lean toward plays where he was actually open. But it will give a good snapshot of his route-running ceiling as well as his skills when the ball does get sent his way — including a look at how he wins.
For a first impression, this method makes a lot of sense, and we can go back and fill in the blanks later.
Here are my thoughts in chronological order as I sifted through Chase's tape. Each takeaway is labeled with +/- (or double plus or minus for significantly good or bad things) and a ~ for neutral.