The Green Bay Packers own two picks in the first round (Nos. 22 and 28) of the 2022 NFL draft. In this “Packers draft profile” series, we will look at several options for Green Bay in the first round and dissect their collegiate careers, highlight reel and how they would fit with the team.
In this edition, we look at Ohio State wide receiver Chris Olave.
The Ohio State record holder for touchdowns in a career, Olave is arguably the most refined wide receiver prospect in the 2022 NFL draft class. He measured in at the combine at 6-feet, 187 pounds and was one of eight blazing pass catchers to run sub-4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
In four years with the Buckeyes (47 games, 24 starts), Olave totaled 176 catches for 2,711 receiving yards and 35 touchdowns, more than program legends such as David Boston (34), Devin Smith (30), Cris Carter (27), Santonio Holmes (25) and Brian Robiskie (24). Olave opted to return to school for the 2021 season and finished his senior year with 65 receptions, 936 yards and 13 touchdowns, all single-season career highs.
Olave was the veteran leader of a special, NFL-ready Buckeyes receiver group in 2021 that featured fellow draft prospect and likely top-20 pick, Garrett Wilson, and sophomore wunderkind Jaxon Smith-Njigba. On the season, the trio accounted for 230 catches, 3,600 yards and 35 total touchdowns.
As a freshman in 2018, Olave had few chances to flash as he was surrounded by future NFL receivers Parris Campbell, K.J. Hill and Terry McLaurin. He managed 12 catches for 197 yards and three scores. Olave really jumped onto the scene in 2019 when he led the Buckeyes receiving corps with 840 yards, while averaging a career-best 17.5 yards per reception, and 12 touchdowns. In seven games as a junior, Olave paced the team in all three categories with 50 catches, 729 receiving yards and seven touchdown grabs. He topped the 100-yard mark on 11 different occasions in his Ohio State career.
Despite his slight frame, Olave is regarded as a potential Day 1 pick because of his exceptional route-running, soft and reliable hands, instincts in the red zone and knack for delivering in big moments.
40-yard dash: 4.39 seconds
Bench press: N/A
Vertical jump: 32 inches
Broad jump: 124 inches
3-cone drill: N/A
20-yard shuttle: N/A
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
“The quiet storm of the Ohio State wide receiver corps, Olave is smooth, steady and makes things happen. His movements are fluid and easy from snap to the catch and all points between. He's fast but efficient and plays with the bend and foot agility to uncover on all three levels. Olave possesses natural, well-rounded ball skills but needs to add play strength to ward off the physical challenges that are headed his way. His play traits should allow for success beyond the scheme and talent advantages surrounding him at Ohio State. He is an inside/outside hybrid appealing to offenses looking for a field-stretcher with the ability to take on a sizable catch load.” – Lance Zierlein
“Olave plays with balance and body control, which allows him to battle through contact and also attack defenders vertically before running by them or uncovering on a route. His understanding of space is on display when he's asked to run more "advanced" routes and also during scramble drills, where he has to find unoccupied areas of the field. … Overall, Olave projects as a Day 1 starter as an inside and out "Z" WR for any NFL offense due to his comfort level with an assortment of concepts and his steady and consistent play style. His versatile skill set as a receiver can translate to any offense.” – Nate Tice
“Ideally, Olave would be the Robin to a Batman "X" receiver in an NFL offense, helping draw safety attention, taking the tops off of defenses and offering consistent yards on short stuff where he can get a runway and go. He's never going to be a physical receiver, but his value is eminently clear.” – Eric Edholm
HOW HE FITS
Olave runs crisp routes and is sneakily dangerous with the ball in his hands. Frankly, he’s the best of both worlds in that he can be a possession receiver or use his wheels to pressure defenses into retreat mode. The Packers could buck their 20-year trend of not picking a wide receiver in the first round – they haven’t done so since making Javon Walker the 20th overall choice in 2002 – by selecting Olave, who is pro ready and could slide right into a dynamic role and garner 80-100+ targets in the Green Bay passing game. Of course, there’s also a decent chance Olave won’t be on the board at No. 22 and the Packers might have to trade up to get him if he’s their guy.