The Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama presents an opportunity for invited players to work with NFL coaching staffs, and show scouts and executives how they respond to that coaching and translate it to success on the field during the game itself. Each year, a few players stand out during the week of practices and in the game, and leave the Senior Bowl having improved their chances of getting invited to the NFL Combine and ultimately being selected a few months later in the NFL Draft.
This year was no different, as D.J. Chark, WR LSU impressed, making play after play in practice and having a monster game that included a 63-yard reception and a 75-yard touchdown catch. Chark finished the game with five catches for 160 yards and a touchdown. If he wasn’t on the radar for teams prior to the Senior Bowl, he was certainly a player who teams would be watching at the Combine a month later. Chark didn’t disappoint, but we’ll get to that later.
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Statistics from sports-reference.com.
Chark’s career at LSU got off to a slow start. He didn’t see the field during his freshman season, and only played in one game as a sophomore. He had one touch in that game though and turned it into a 79-yard touchdown run on a reverse.
Chark got more involved in the offense in his junior season, catching 26 passes for 466 yards and three touchdowns. He added another score and 122 yards on the ground on 12 carries and established himself as a big play threat. During his senior season, Chark caught 40 passes for 874 yards and three touchdowns and led the nation among players with 40 or more receptions with a 21.9 yards per catch average.
While his collegiate statistics certainly lead something to be desired, Chark showed the ability to make big plays down the field. He is an exciting playmaker and is a homerun threat every time he touches the ball. His statistical output was limited due to a horrible quarterback play and a passing offense that averaged 193.2 yards per game during the years in which he saw game action, and never finished better than 84th in the nation.
At 6’3”, 199 pounds, Chark is tall and lean. When you watch him run, it looks effortless, as he is a long strider. He has good long speed as is a threat vertically. Chark is also very explosive and shows good acceleration and burst off the line of scrimmage. He is adept at adjusting on passes that are not thrown with pinpoint accuracy and does a good job tracking the deep ball. Much of his production came on deep balls, or short passes such as hitch or out routes. He is also good at double moves and getting defenders to bit hard on the first leg of the move.
Where Chark struggles is in his route running. He doesn’t always get separation from corners when running vertical routes if he cannot just run by the defender. He struggles with press coverage with his smaller frame and relies on his speed and talent rather than route precision.
Chark had a wonderful Senior Bowl and kept the momentum rolling with his NFL Combine performance. Chark validated his speed by running a 4.34 40-yard dash (95th percentile) and performed in the 91st and 92nd percentile in the broad jump (129”) and vertical jump (40”), respectively. He also measures very well in height (77th percentile) and wingspan (79th percentile).
To put it simply, D.J. Chark is an athletic freak. The 4.34 40-yard dash and 40” vertical jump were both the top numbers produced by a wide receiver at the Combine. His weight (45th percentile) and hand size (42nd percentile) were the only measurables that Chark scored below average.
With a dynasty ADP of 166, Chark is currently going between the 13th and 14th round in startup drafts. He is currently the ninth wide receiver being taken in rookie drafts and has a rookie ADP of 27th overall. He’s being taken in the early third round of rookie drafts in 12 team leagues.
The DLF staff has Chark ranked as the 20th overall prospect in the class of 2018. His current ADP suggests he is being undervalued in rookie drafts by the dynasty community and could provide a value opportunity if selected in rookie drafts. If he ends up with a team that has a quarterback who can throw the deep ball, he has a chance to be an explosive big-play threat and increase his dynasty value. His value could drop if he doesn’t learn how to beat press coverage and create separation from NFL corners.
D.J. Chark is a heck of an athlete. His speed and big-play ability are what NFL coaches and GMs drool over. He needs to refine his receiving skills, however, if he wants to have a long career. If he can learn to pay attention to the details and use his athleticism, he has a chance to be a special playmaker at the NFL level.