It’s no secret that the Cowboys need help on the offensive line, and the 23 teams picking ahead of them in this month’s draft know that. Jerry Jones even told the masses that the team is focusing on the position, but would like to remain open to a “Lamb or Parsons” best player available pick.
The biggest move of the Cowboys offseason remains the decision to trade Amari Cooper, which elevates CeeDee Lamb to the number one receiver. While they look to improve the protection for Dak Prescott, the Cowboys also know he needs more weapons on the outside.
Wide receivers Drake London, Treylon Burks, and Chris Olave are all confirmed 30 visits for Dallas. With many draft rankings having the top receivers stacked close together, the Cowboys are doing their due diligence on pass catchers that likely won’t last until their 56th overall pick in the second round.
Ohio State’s Chris Olave would be a valuable pick at 24th overall, but is he worth another first-round investment for the Cowboys at receiver? Here is our full scouting report on the four-year player that set a career high with 936 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2021.
WR Chris Olave: Strengths
Olave has effortless speed on tape, gliding past defensive backs with a 4.39 second 40-yard time. His balanced release off the line makes it hard for defensive backs to predict his movements, attacking their blind spots and exposing soft spots in zone coverage.
There’s an adage with speed receivers that they have a defender beat as soon as they’re on the same level, and Olave proves this with his naturally strong hands and wide catch radius. This is a receiver that’s fluid through double moves and gets vertical quickly with long strides.
Though his arm length is below average, Olave is a technician with his hands, subtly pushing off defensive backs to release freely and create separation. Olave presents a big target to the quarterback when running routes over the middle, something he isn’t afraid to do at 187 pounds.
WR Chris Olave: Weaknesses
Olave’s slender build makes him a tough cover when he gets a free release, which are hard to come by in the NFL game. Against press coverage on the outside, Olave can be squeezed to the sideline and struggle to escape lengthier defensive backs.
Taking advantage of single coverage without help over the top came easily for Olave, the result of playing with fellow first-round talent Garrett Wilson. His best day one position in the pros may be in the slot, as winning consistently on the outside could be a struggle. With the ball in his hands, Olave can make defenders miss, but doesn’t show off another gear to beat angles and create extra yards.
Mostly a get-in-the-way blocker in the run game, Olave gets beat to the spot when trying to seal the edge and doesn’t have the grip strength to sustain blocks.
WR Chris Olave: Summary
Using the Fanspeak On the Clock simulator to get Olave to the Cowboys first-round pick was no easy task. The most common landing spots for Olave before falling to 24 were the Patriots at 21 and Packers at 22. When he was available for the Cowboys, Olave’s pick came during a run on receivers that saw Drake London to the Patriots, Treylon Burks to the Packers, Jameson Williams to the Bills at 25, and Jahan Dotson to the Bucs at 27.
The Cowboys have tried to use free agency to fill their needs enough for runs like this on one position to not derail their draft plans. When taking Olave at 24, Texas A&M DL DeMarvin Leal became a high-value second round pick, and Memphis OL Dylan Parham was the answer at guard in the third.
Whether or not Dallas is comfortable waiting until the second or third round to address offensive line remains to be seen, and will largely be up to how receivers like Olave grade out. Olave would give the Cowboys flexibility between Lamb and James Washington as three receivers capable of playing inside or out. An easy player to scheme touches for, Olave also makes big plays on scramble drills and comes back to the ball well.
This is a receiver that would certainly help Kellen Moore’s offense try to take another step up, but the cost of a first-round pick may be a little too steep for the Cowboys.