Five months after an assortment of dropped passes in the preseason caused consternation among Cincinnati Bengals fans regarding Ja'Marr Chase, the team's first-round draft pick laid those worries to rest in the most emphatic way possible.
Chase was named the 2021 NFL AP Offensive Rookie of the Year on Thursday during NFL Honors.
The Bengals' deep threat earned 42 of 50 votes, with Patriots quarterback Mac Jones garnering five votes. Chiefs center Creed Humphrey (two) and Chargers offensive tackle Rashawn Slater (one) also got votes.
Chase started every game, amassing 81 catches for 1,455 yards, a stout average of 18 yards per catch, and 13 touchdowns. No rookie in the Super Bowl era has piled up more receiving yards, and the total was a franchise record, as well, breaking Chad Johnson's mark of 1,440. Chase's 266 yards in a Week 17 win over the Kansas City Chiefs were a single-game rookie record.
With speed and quickness that allowed him to generate a great deal of separation from defensive backs, he proved to be a dynamic addition to an explosive offense.
Chase will lead the Bengals' receiving corps into Sunday's Super Bowl LVI against the Los Angeles Rams as a key component of the franchise's first Super Bowl appearance since the 1988 season.
From the year's outset, the No. 5 overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft -- reunited with his college quarterback, Joe Burrow -- quickly became the NFL's most dangerous deep threat. Per Next Gen Stats, his 512 yards on deep passes thrown outside the numbers were the most in the NFL since at least 2016.
With Chase taking the top off defenses downfield, opposing defenses couldn't afford to cheat against the run, and running back Joe Mixon took advantage with his best season as a pro (1,205 yards, 13 touchdowns).
Now, Chase is on the cusp of a Super Bowl ring, proving to be the perfect draft selection to energize the Bengals' offense.