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Ja'Marr Chase shines again at pro day workout

JaMarr Chase

Justin Jefferson was one of the brightest stars of the rookie class in the NFL last year.

Which makes it hard to imagine what his former LSU teammate Ja'Marr Chase is going to do when he gets to the professional level.

Chase added to his incredible resume with a pro day performance Wednesday which served as icing on the cake, since he was already likely to be the first wide receiver and possibly the first non-quarterback taken in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Chase ran a 4.38-second 40-yard dash, and had a 41-inch vertical leap during testing at LSU, exceeding his own expectations.

"I was going for a low 4.4," Chase said of his anticipated time, while casually mentioning some recent vertical leaps in the 39-inch range.

Of course, Chase set a pretty high bar for himself the last time he played. He opted out of last season, but after his second year at LSU, there wasn't that much more to say.

He caught a cartoonish 84 passes for 1,780 yards for LSU in 2019, with that 21.2 yards per catch average a big part of the reason quarterback Joe Burrow won a Heisman and became the first overall pick in last year's draft.

The Bengals pick fifth overall this year, and Chase answered multiple questions about the possibility of reuniting with his old quarterback there.

"I wouldn't mind going back with Joe," Chase said. "If we go back together, we're trying to do nothing but get back our chemistry and have some more fun."

Averaging an NCAA-best 48.4 points per game at LSU in 2019 was the work of more than one person (Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady had a hand in it as well), but Chase stood out in a crowded field.

Jefferson had a good year at LSU in 2019, it just wasn't otherworldly. He caught 111 passes for 1,540 yards (13.9 yards per catch) and 18 touchdowns, which would have made him the star anywhere else.

"I enjoyed Justin playing this year, he had a great season," Chase said. "I don't really want to take anything away from Justin because he worked hard to get there. Me and Justin, we're all about competing, that's how we get better. Watching him playing is going to make me better. Working out with him is going to make me better. The best ways are to watch his film, learn the things he did, and take it for myself and mix it up a little more."

The fact that Jefferson adapted to the league so quickly last year also speaks to why Chase could take the year off and still end up a top-five pick.

After the Vikings took him 22nd overall to fill the void created by trading Stefon Diggs to the Bills, Jefferson stepped in with 88 receptions for 1,400 yards and seven touchdowns. He was the only player other than Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert to get a vote for Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.

But at LSU in 2019, Jefferson was mostly just Chase's teammate.

NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said Chase was atop this year's talented class of wideouts "just because of everything he can do," calling him a "big-time pure No. 1 wideout."

"I think a lot of times when you're watching receivers, you see . . . guys that can win with separation and quickness and you see guys that can win with physicality and kind of contested catches," Jeremiah said. "When you watch him at LSU in 2019, you see examples of both, where he can separate from people off the line of scrimmage, he can separate at the top of his route. He plays big to go up and get the football, and then after the catch, he gives you that strength and physicality to break tackles.

"He's to me the best receiver in the draft."

View AP photos from LSU's Pro Day, featuring wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase.

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