The 2018 NFL Draft Prospect series breaks down draft-eligible players, highlighting their college production as well as their NFL potential. Daily fantasy players should know about NFL rookies before they’ve played a down of professional football because they are among the most misvalued assets in all of DFS. People who know NFL rookies have a significant DFS edge. The draft will be held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX, from April 26-28.
This piece is on Louisiana State wide receiver D.J. Chark.
For more on all the other receivers in the class, see our 2018 NFL draft wide receiver rankings.
Updated as of Mar. 6.
Senior | 6’3″ and 199 Pounds | Born September 23, 1996 (Age: 21) | Projection: Rounds 2-3
Combine numbers: 40-yard: 4.34 sec | bench reps: 16 | 3-cone: DNP | 20-yard shuttle: DNP | vertical: 40 in | broad: 129 in
Over the last 15 years, LSU has had a lot of wide receivers drafted into the NFL.
- Michael Clayton (2004, first round)
- Devery Henderson (2004, second round)
- Skyler Green (2006, fourth round)
- Bennie Brazell (2006, seventh round)
- Dwayne Bowe (2007, first round)
- Craig Davis (2007, first round)
- Early Doucet (2008, third round)
- Demetrius Byrd (2009, seventh round)
- Brandon LaFell (2010, third round)
- Trindon Holliday (2010, sixth round)
- Rueben Randle (2012, second round)
- Odell Beckham Jr. (2014, first round)
- Jarvis Landry (2014, second round)
- James Wright (2014, seventh round)
- Malachi Dupre (2017, seventh round)
Only four of them have had a 1,000-yard receiving season in the NFL: OBJ, Landry, Bowe, and Clayton, which isn’t surprising, given that they had the four best single receiving seasons of the collegiate cohort.
- Beckham: 59 receptions, 1,152 yards, eight touchdowns (2013)
- Landry: 77 receptions, 1,193 yards, 10 touchdowns (2013)
- Bowe: 65 receptions, 990 yards, 12 touchdowns (2006)
- Clayton: 78 receptions, 1,079 yards, 10 touchdowns (2003)
As producers, these four were clearly a cut above the rest of the LSU cohort — and Chark looks nothing like them.
As a freshman, Chark literally didn’t touch the ball. As a sophomore, he touched the ball twice: Once on an end-around run, and once on a lateral that someone else caught first. For his first two years of college, Chark actually had zero receptions. As a junior he finally got regular playing time as the third receiver in the offense behind Dupre and Travin Dural, and he finished second on the team with 466 yards receiving and tied for first with three touchdowns. With Dupre and Dural in the NFL, Chark as a senior ‘dominated’ the passing offense, leading the team with 40 receptions, 874 yards, and three touchdowns. None of that is very exciting.
Nevertheless, Chark is getting Day 2 hype — he ran a position-best 4.34-second 40 at the combine — and it’s possible that he could be a better professional than college player. LSU employed a ground-based offense that emphasized running backs Derrius Guice and Darrel Williams, and the quarterbacks didn’t complete even 60 percent of their passes in 2017. A four-star recruit coming out of high school, Chark contributed in a variety of ways, finishing his college career with 264 yards rushing and four touchdowns on 25 carries, and he also returned punts as a senior, taking two back for touchdowns. A team captain as a senior, Chark was 14th among all wideout prospects with 2.92 yards per route (Pro Football Focus), and he was a good field stretcher, placing top-five among all prospects with 13 receptions of 20-plus yards and 549 deep yards receiving. On top of that, he generated good buzz at Senior Bowl practices, and then he tore up the game itself with five receptions for 160 yards and a touchdown.
I can see how an NFL front office could talk itself into drafting Chark on Day 2: He has some distinguishing attributes among this year’s prospects, and it’s possible that he could be a Martavis Bryant-ian player as a professional. But I can also see how he could fail to develop into a consistent NFL contributor. A lot of guys with little production and 40 times under 4.40 seconds have been Day 2 picks over the last 10 years. Most of them turned into versions of Stephen Hill. Chark looks much more like the LSU receivers who do nothing in the NFL than those who produce.
Photo Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports