2021 NFL Draft | Could Chris Olave be the next Terry McLaurin?


One notable storyline that came out of the 2019-2020 NFL season was the emergence of multiple rookie wide receivers. Nine rookie wide receivers posted over 500 receiving yards, and all nine of them had at least four offensive touchdowns. 

One of those rookie wide receivers was former third round pick Terry McLaurin of the Washington Redskins, who was second among all rookies in receptions and receiving yards while missing two games. McLaurin proved that he was underrated coming out of Ohio State, falling to pick No. 76 even though he was a 96th percentile athlete and had 11 receiving touchdowns on just 46 targets during his senior season.

McLaurin has become known for his nuanced route running and vertical speed, as he’s able to accelerate away from coverage with ease to create separation. His suddenness, double moves and catch radius led to his production despite uninspiring quarterback play as a rookie.

While the Buckeyes lost quality wide receivers such as McLaurin and Parris Campbell, their passing offense barely missed a beat due to the emergence of true sophomore wide receiver Chris Olave. Olave filled a similar role that McLaurin once had, leading Ohio State in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns last season. The comparisons in their respective skill-sets stick out on Olave’s tape.

McLaurin averaged 20 yards per catch during his final college season, as his 4.3s vertical speed was a weapon. The same goes for Olave, who is fluid through his vertical breaks and has the juice to uncover down the field. Out of his 48 receptions on the season, 23 of them went for 15-plus yards, including 13 gains of 20-plus yards. His separation makes him dangerous in the intermediate and deep levels of the field.


On top of Olave’s vertical speed, his ability to put on the brakes and create a passing window is special. Cornerbacks are forced to be wary of his speed down the field, and Olave will breakdown once they open up their hips. For some fast receivers, being efficient through breaks is more difficult because it involves taking minimal steps to slow down all of that speed, but not for Olave. He’ll snap through his breaks because he’s flexible and fluid, easily making himself available in the 10 to 12-yard window.

On top of his natural ability as a route runner, Olave has the nuance to accelerate through double moves and continue building as the game goes on. He shows an understanding of how to stay light on his feet in order to sprint through the second move of the route. Additionally, his initial moves are mirror images of routes that he ran earlier in the game.

Take this touchdown against Penn State for example, as his route stem is the same one that he showed on the previous comeback route. Olave stutters his feet just enough to get the cornerback to jump the move, and he’s able to get open over the top because of it. Despite a shaky throw, Olave makes an impressive in-air adjustment and possession play to pull the ball in away from the defensive back.

Each player has a skill-set that is unique to them, but comparisons are natural for players who play in similar fashion. For Olave, he’s cut from the same cloth as McLaurin, hence the reason that he essentially took over the same position in Ohio State’s offense. For his pro potential, he has the talent to be equally as productive early in his future NFL career.

With those reasons, Chris Olave could very well be the “next” Terry McLaurin.