The 2022 NFL Draft is quickly approaching, and the Atlanta Falcons have quickly become one of the most intriguing teams to watch in this year’s event. There are a number of ways the Falcons can go with their No. 8 overall pick, and they’ve got five of the top 82 picks in this draft.
In the lead-up to this important draft for Atlanta, we’re going to be providing our evaluations of some of the top prospects. For those unfamiliar with our process, we’re using Kevin Knight’s own grading system, which you can read about here. This system is still in development and minor tweaks may be made as more data is available.
Today’s prospect is Ohio State wide receiver Chris Olave. As one of the premier receiver prospects in this class, Olave is an advanced route runner and smooth playmaker who doesn’t display jaw-dropping ability in any one specific area. Nevertheless, Olave’s combination of traits and production make him a seemingly safe prospect with upside.
WR | Chris Olave | Ohio State | #2
Games watched: Oregon, Penn State, Michigan State, Minnesota
In this dealer’s-choice type of wide receiver draft class, Chris Olave might present the most polished option. There are very few things he doesn’t do well, but he isn’t truly elite in any one area. Instead, he is a polished route runner with the top-end speed to threaten a defense and natural ball skills to make tough plays.
Olave was a productive receiver during his career at Ohio State, finishing with at least 700 yards and seven touchdowns in each of his final three seasons. He played out wide, in the slot and was used on screens and reverses in his offense. While Ohio State’s scheme did provide some wide-open looks for Olave, he is a plus route runner who can create separation anywhere on the field.
He has drawn praise for his character on and off the field, and Olave was a reliable presence for the Buckeyes in tight games. Size and strength present a concern for Olave in the NFL, and he will need to put in work at the gym.
Olave’s slender frame makes him better suited to be a No. 2 receiver in the NFL, but he has the skills to become one of the league’s best. His deep speed will often command extra attention or a defense risks getting beat deep, and his route running will benefit those around him while also giving him a way to win at the next level.
Olave has smooth deep speed to take the top off a defense. Looks a tick slower on film than his 40 time would suggest. Maintains his speed well and unleashes it at all levels of the field. Can access a different gear when he needs to.
Few wasted movements in his game. More fluid than sudden. Doesn’t let his momentum get away from him, he’s always in control. Fast feet give him space to glide away from defenders.
Catch Ability: 7
Very natural catcher of the football. Tracks deep passes well and can adjust to locate poor throws. Works with his quarterback out of structure. Focuses on getting feet down near the sideline.
Route Running: 7
One of the best route runners in this class. Comfortable creating space at each level of the defense. Natural feel for how his routes fit with others’. Speed sets up a comeback route that is difficult for defenders to stick with.
Doesn’t have a pro-ready frame. Concerns about how he will fare against physical press corners have crept up. Doesn’t break many tackles. Can be controlled by press defense if he can’t win with agility.
Fast off the ball with a plan to get free against his defender. Sudden stab moves open up space against press. Likes to cross up a defender by moving from one side to another while advancing upfield.
More of a glider than a twitched-up cheetah, but his acceleration and top speed are terrific. Has enough leaping ability to compete for jump balls. Won’t be hurdling anyone at the next level. A threat to score from anywhere.
Yards After Catch: 5
Not an elite player with the ball in his hands. Has a feel for setting up blocks as a runner. Won’t break tackles and doesn’t show the ability to make multiple players miss by stringing together moves. Will pick up positive yards after the play.
Strong multi-year production capped off by his 936-yard, 13-touchdown senior campaign. Caught 175 passes for 2,702 yards and 35 touchdowns in four years at Ohio State. Led team in touchdowns as a senior but finished third in catches and yards.
Gives effort as a blocker but lacks the size and strength to be effective in this area.
Athleticism: 8.63, 17/20
Olave is a great athlete with fluid speed and agility. He’s not a physical player and lacks the strength to impose himself on NFL defenders. He’ll rely on his feet to keep him free.