The Washington Commanders are on the clock for the 2022 NFL Draft and hold the 11th overall pick. With a lot of speculation and predictions on what the Commanders should do at pick 11, I decided to make a case for WR Chris Olave out of Ohio State being the selection for more than just the on-the-field reasons.
I believe we can all agree that drafting a WR at pick 11 is very much a viable option this year, and that ranking the top five WRs in the Draft can be arranged in many ways. Yes BPA (Best Player Available) is the formula for drafting especially in the first round, and the decision could be tough if someone like “Sauce” Gardner or Kyle Hamilton falls to 11, but let’s not count out a WR in an offense-driven league.
Terry McLaurin has easily been the best WR on the team since being drafted in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft, but Washington has long missed a second option opposite McLaurin. Yes, of course, a healthy Curtis Samuel will help aide a strugging offense, but Samuel will likely be used as a slot WR/running option much like he was in Carolina with a few opportunities outside which leaves the missing perimeter WR for Washington still.
Enter Chris Olave, an explosive play-making WR and familiar friend of Terry McLaurin. Brian Hartline has pumped out NFL talent as the WR Coach at Ohio State that featured Terry McLaurin being drafted in 2019, while a young Chris Olave sat and learned in the background to soon become a first-round draft prospect in 2022.
As his senior season came to an end, Olave reflects back on a successful career at Ohio State and issued a statement on Senior Day that mentions how thankful he was for his mentor Terry McLaurin, much like Curtis Samuel did for a young McLaurin.
Why the Commanders should reunite former Ohio State teammates Chris Olave and Terry McLaurin.
Washington fans have seen first hand the leadership qualities of Terry McLaurin on and off the field as being a two -time captain in his three seasons, as well as being the constant piece of a forever changing offense with a carousel of QBs.
Chris Olave name dropping McLaurin as the single biggest impact in his entire Ohio State career solidifies that Terry is special, and that maybe adding Olave to this offense could create a much needed spark. One important factor on a football team, especially for WRs on an offense, is continuity and the connection of being on the same page at all times in a fast pace game.
Olave was asked about McLaurin at the NFL Combine in March, and mentioned that he and Terry still remain in constant contact, and that Terry is “like a big brother” to him.
As if the connection with Washington’s spotlight on offense wasn’t enough, let’s dig into what Olave himself could bring to the offense that looks to go deep downfield much more this season with Wentz at the helm.
If you tuned into Ohio State football games in the last view years, you probably witnessed Chris Olave breaking ankles with artistic releases, and refined route running to create big plays over the top accounting for 2,702 receiving yards and 35 touchdowns in 38 games with a career average of 15.4 yards per catch.
Kyle Crabbs from The Draft Network highlights what makes Olave a special WR prospect in his Draft Profile:
"Olave should be considered one of the best route-runners in the 2022 NFL Draft. Whether he’s working on the hard-breaking routes back to the line of scrimmage, implementing double moves to work vertically, or working across the middle with deep over/cross patterns, Olave has the savvy in selling false breaks and taking winning angles to maximize his availability to the quarterback. He’s considered a three-level threat, and as a result, will have appeal to just about every offensive system in the league."
We’ve seen Terry make big plays across the middle on short routes after the catch, and even deep when having a QB who is able to go vertical. Having an explosive Olave to take attention away from McLaurin on the opposite side of the field, puts a lot more stress on opposing defenses compared to a mid-tier caliber WR that is already on the roster.
One of the biggest traits that help WRs transition well in the NFL, especially for smaller built WRs (ex: Stefon Diggs), is utilizing speed after the catch, and by winning with separation in their routes. Though many may have concerns of the contested catch ability and physical hand fighting of Olave’s game, his route running and agility are more than adequate enough to create opportunities on any offense. Olave shows the play speed on tape, and also clocked an official 4.39 40 yard dash at the NFL Combine putting together an impressive Relative Athletic Score created by Kent Lee Platte of Pro Football Network.
Ohio State held its Pro Day on March 23 which featured over 100 NFL personnel in attendance which included HC Ron Rivera and GM Martin Mayhew for the Commanders. Though Ohio State had 11 draft prospects who were going through drills to impress all 32 NFL teams, Washington showed a lot of attention to the WRs of Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson. Ron Rivera was spotted having conversations with Ohio State WR Coach Brian Hartline, and Chris Olave himself after going through drills.
The interest is absolutely real between Chris Olave and the Commanders, and fans should really get behind an Ohio State WR corp of Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel, and Chris Olave. With a Super Bowl that featured the Bengals with a WR corp of Ja’Marr Chase, TeeHiggins and Tyler Boyd along with the Rams stacked with Cooper Kupp, Odell Beckham Jr., Robert Woods (IR), and Van Jefferson, Washington needs to add as many weapons on offense as possible to keep up in the league.
The Commander haven’t drafted a WR in the first round since Josh Doctson in 2016, and the most recent before that was Rod Gardner all the way back in 2001. Terry McLaurin was a gem in the third round, but will Washington finally be aggressive again in drafting a playmaker at WR in the first round? Tune into the NFL Draft Thursday, April 28th at 8:00pm ET to find out what the Commanders do with pick 11.