The Jacksonville Jaguars used their first of two picks on Day 2 of the 2018 NFL Draft on adding electricity to the offense in selecting LSU wide receiver D.J. Chark.
The 6-3, 199 lb receiver brings true playmaking ability and athleticism to the table. The former Tiger ran a 4.34 40 yard dash, jumped 40 inches vertical and 129 inches broad, and possesses a 79 inch wingspan. That ranks him in the 95th, 92nd, 91st, and 84th percentile among NFL wide receivers, respectively.
Chark didn’t catch a single pass in his first two years at LSU, but he recorded 66 catches for 1351 yards (that’s 20.5 yards per catch!) and four touchdowns in his junior and senior seasons combined. He also returned 18 punts for 190 yards (10.6 yards per return) and two touchdowns during his final season in Baton Rouge.
Jaguars GM Dave Caldwell was vocal about wanting to trade up to secure Chark, so he was clearly a fron-office favorite during this draft process. What does the team see in Chark? Let’s dive into his film to find out.
- Size and speed combo is salivating. Possesses measurables that wide receiver coaches dream of.
- Game speed is evident. Can get open/separation with speed alone.
- Playmaker. Out-jumps defenders in 50-50 situations and utilizes frame.
- Adjusts to bad passes very well. Was often underthown at LSU, and was able to adjust with quick hip flipping and coming back to the ball.
- Breaks into deep routes cleanly. Utilizes doubles moves against man coverage.
- Dynamic punt returner with great field vision.
Chark’s testing speed translates to his game speed. The route above is a solid example of his game speed and feel for route-running, as he utilizes speed into his cuts and breaks and not as much hand usage and technique. In order to advance his game and grow as a receiver, he will need to incorporate more hand usage and technique to win against NFL cornerbacks, but this type of speed on it’s own can be deadly in the pass game.
Adjusting to poor passes is a major strength of Chark’s, and if you’ve paid attention to the Jaguars’ passing game in the past couple of years, adjustment has often been a necessary skill for the team’s wide receiver corps. Every year I usually walk away from my prospect scouting with a player or two who’s biggest weakness was who was throwing him the ball, and Chark fits that bill.
Former LSU QB Danny Etling frequently failed to hit Chark in stride on routes, and Chark normally had to work his way back to the ball. Despite Blake Bortles’ growth in the past season, he still has placement issues, and Chark provides the ability to bail him out.
As if his 4.34 speed isn’t good enough, Chark’s field vision as a punt returner is extraordinary and let’s him attack his punt returns with a plan. He will most likely compete with Jaydon Mickens and Dede Westbrook for punt returning duties in training camp.
- Route sharpness and hand usage to separate is inconsistent, needs to add more routes to arsenal.
- Doesn’t sink hips into breaks, making routes easier fornerbacks to play.
- Often uses body/alligator arms to catch the ball, needs to attack better at high point.
Chark was mainly a deep threat in the Tigers’ offense, and didn’t boast a large route tree. Part of this comes from a lack of sinking his hips into his breaks, which limited the sharpness of his short/intermediate routes where he’d cut or comeback to the ball.
Chark rounds out at the top of his curl, which is less than optimal for maintaining separation going back to the ball. NFL cornerbacks play the ball much quicker than the cornerback in coverage here, and potentially even intercept the pass despite it being a well timed throw. Chark needs to drop his hips and make his curl sharper to utilize this route at the next level and continue to create yards after the catch.
Body catching is one of the most noticeable faults in Chark’s game. He had plenty of time with his head back to the QB on this pass to extend his arms and attack this ball, and he let it go right into his chest.
In this clip we see Chark display his ability to adjust to poor placement, but again, he lacks arm extension to attack this ball in the air. He had the ball in his possession while the cornerback was mid-hip flip, but if he extended and attacked this ball he would have created even more leverage and separation to find more yards after the catch.
D.J. Chark possesses the measurables that wide receiver coaches dream of, but he is certainly a project type of player with the potential to be a star. Jaguars WR coach Keenan McCardell needs to develop Chark’s sharpness in route running and eliminate his body catching to turn him into an all-around threat as a receiver, but his floor is a true deep threat in the Jaguars offense.
However, if he develops properly, Chark could ascend into being one of the most electric receivers in the league.
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