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The Unpacking Future Packers Countdown is a countdown of 100 prospects that could be selected by the Green Bay Packers in the 2022 NFL draft.
A player that Brian Gutekunst could target with the 22nd overall pick to help replace Adams is Chris Olave. The Ohio State wide receiver checks in at No. 6 in the Unpacking Future Packers countdown.
A three-star recruit out of California, Olave hauled in three touchdowns as a freshman in 2018. In 2019, Olave recorded 48 receptions for 840 yards and 12 touchdowns. The following season Olave hauled in 50 receptions for 729 yards and seven touchdowns.
Olave finished this past season with 65 receptions for 936 yards and 13 touchdowns.
“Ohio State this past season had arguably the best receiving room in the country with Olave playing more of an elder statesmen role,” Christopher Renne, a contributor for Land Grant Holy Land, said. “Olave’s junior season was his best per game production in receptions and yards, but his 13 touchdowns this season helped him set the all-time career receiving touchdown record.”
If Olave had declared for the 2021 NFL draft, the Ohio State wide receiver likely would have been a Top 40 pick. He returned to school and now will likely be a Top 25 pick.
“From the standpoint of what NFL teams including the Packers are looking for, Olave showed he could play stronger in one-on-one situations at the catch point,” Renne said. “His speed will always make him a dynamic weapon as a deep threat, and he utilized it much more after the catch than in previous seasons. Overall, his last season was a lot of the same, which was elite, but he did improve in the areas he came back to get better at.”
Olave has a master’s degree in route running. He’s so smooth and is arguably the best route runner in this class. He’s so sudden off the line of scrimmage, with fancy footwork to beat press coverage. He has subtle movements in his routes that help him create separation and consistently get open. The route technician is smooth in and out of his breaks, with no wasted movements. He shows good late burst on vertical routes to create separation downfield.
Chris Olave: Best route runner in the 2022 #NFLDraft.
— Eric Galko (@EricGalko) April 20, 2022
Olave is a three-level threat. With his top speed and ability to create late separation on vertical routes, Olave could provide Green Bay with the vertical threat they desperately need.
Most deep receiving TDs since 2019 (@PFF_College)
1. Chris Olave – 19
Next most – 14
— Anthony Treash (@PFF_Anthony) March 4, 2022
“Brian Hartline has taken the Ohio State receiving room to another level by coaching his receivers to create separation,” Renne said. “Olave is a natural when it comes to creating separation and this comes from every step of the route. The way he eats up the defender’s cushions, leans into stems to set up his route, and his explosiveness out of the break all make him a great route runner.”
Olave has reliable hands. He plucks the ball out of the air without throttling down. He tracks the ball well on deep routes and has late hands. Olave has a good-sized catch radius and shows outstanding body control when the ball is in the air.
Chris Olave on 20+ yard targets since 2019:
🥇 29 catches (1st)
🥇 1,054 yards (1st)
🥇 19 TDs (1st)pic.twitter.com/q2dtZ8wT5E
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) April 14, 2022
“Olave improved every year in this regard, he was the most reliable target for three quarterbacks in big games throughout his career at Ohio State,” Renne said. “His defining moment will be the post route he caught against Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl Semifinal match up, but when you look at his highlights there are a lot of tough catches. This past season, he made one along the sideline that everybody ogled over and one my favorite plays of his came against Michigan State when he jumped over two defenders to make an incredible catch in the endzone. Then against Maryland he showed that even when he probably shouldn’t make the catch, he still can.”
Olave isn’t a huge YAC threat. That’s okay, neither was Adams. Olave is a separator and will be a quarterback’s best friend due to the fact that he’s always open and has reliable hands. Anything he offers in terms of YAC will be gravy. With his speed and track background, Olave will occasionally bust off a big run. His 4.39 speed will put added stress on a defense when the ball is in his hands.
“This is probably the ‘worst’ aspect of Olave’s game, but he still has plenty of speed to run by defenders,” Renne said. “He’s not as shifty as Wilson or as explosive as Jameson Williams after the catch. Last season he developed a nice stiff arm which gave him quite a bit more YAC yards, but his shiftiness won’t ooze off the screen.”
The Ohio State wide receiver isn’t the biggest (187 pounds), but he’s a willing blocker out on the perimeter. Due to his size, he may not be a people mover, but the “want to” is there.
“You do not get on the field at Ohio State if you aren’t a willing blocker,” Renne said. “Olave started making plays as a true freshman, and when Urban Meyer was in charge, this was a point emphasis that also stayed with Ryan Day. The offensive line and J.K. Dobbins were obviously the two key cogs of his 2,000 yard rushing season, but you don’t have those big plays without receivers doing their job in the run game as well. His size might present some challenges for him in this regard at the next level, but he will be a willing blocker.”
Olave also has experience playing on special teams. He blocked a punt during his first season on campus. It’s not likely something the star wide receiver will do at the next level, but it’s just another box that Olave checks.
Fit with the Packers
Olave is NFL-ready. There just aren’t any major holes in his games. The Packers desperately need an infusion of talent at the wide receiver position and landing one of the best wide receivers in this draft class would be a great start in replacing Adams.
“Olave brings a little bit of everything to the table,” Renne said. “In the NFL, the ability to create separation is incredibly underrated and there isn’t a receiver in this class better at that than Olave. When you look at that in order, Drake London and Garrett Wilson probably provide that the most, but Olave is a more dynamic deep threat than both. When you look around the successful receivers at different ends of the spectrum in the NFL like Davante Adams, Keenan Allen, and even Hunter Renfrow, you see a common theme. The ability to create separation at the break point of routes. Olave was a master of this in college which is why I would draft Olave.”
There is a veteran-like savvy to Olave’s game. As a rookie, the Ohio State product could step in and be a team’s No. 2 wide receiver, with the potential to develop into a team’s top target.
Big Ten WR’s with the lowest drop rates since 2019 (min. 150 targets)
1. David Bell: 4.2%
2. Jahan Dotson: 4.9%
3. Chris Olave: 5.1% pic.twitter.com/cDzgGDmSJh
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) April 16, 2022
If Olave were to land in Green Bay, he’d be the betting favorite to win Offensive Rookie of the Year. With his polished route running and reliable hands, Olave would quickly endure himself to the reigning MVP.