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Player Profile: D.J. Chark Could be the Right Ball of Clay for Colts in Frank Reich’s System

Southern Miss v LSU Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

2018 Stampede Blue NFL Draft Guide Player Profile

D.J. Chark has the size and speed to bring a new dynamic to the Indianapolis Colts receiving corps

If there is a position in the 2018 NFL Draft that has already created several negative narratives, but also brings noticeable strengths to the class in general, it’s this wide receiver class. D.J. Chark is one of those hard to pin down to where exactly he will come off of the board, but is physical assets are unmistakable.

Chark isn’t Calvin Ridley, Christian Kirk, D.J. Moore or even Courtland Sutton in build or, as with them, being given the designation of becoming a first-round pick. On the other hand, he has a ceiling that should be making teams looking for a receiver with nice size, quality route running and big-play ability drool at a certain point in the draft.

Chark’s largest concern may be his inconsistency, or even his lack of top-end production. For a receiver with breakaway speed (4.34 40-yard dash) and a very good wingspan (catch radius), Chark simply didn’t put up the numbers most teams are looking from a receiver in the first couple rounds.

LSU v Alabama Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

There’s no mistaking what he could provide a team with the right coaching and system, but his propensity to disappear at times in games is something that teams are taking a close look at. With the Colts ultimately only having T.Y. Hilton and Chester Rogers back with any experience on the roster, replacing Donte Moncrief’s speed and targets at every level of the field could be enticing for Chris Ballard and Frank Reich.

There’s also the fact that the quarterback situation at LSU hasn’t exactly been top-tier, and maybe he should be getting more credit for what he did do given the fact that his quarterbacks only threw for just over 2,500 yards and 17 touchdowns on the season.

Perhaps the most intriguing issue with Chark is his actual size. He’s listed in many places at 6-foot-3 and change, 6-foot-4 in others, and as low as 6-foot via the NFL’s Combine page on him. In the same breath, they are all pretty similar with having him weigh in just under 200 pounds.

In this context Chark caught over 24% of the starter’s completions. That’s not great, but again, this was not a pass-first offense by any stretch of the imagination. Given all of these realities stacked against his profile, he did rack up 4 games with more than 100 receiving yards, and in those he never caught more than 5 passes.

The big question for most teams taking a look at him must be something along the lines of whether or not he can finish with all of that big-play ability — get the ball in the end zone. Given the right tutelage in the NFL, Chark could be an important piece to a team willing to smooth out some of his rough edges.

Teaching him to become an all-around, mid-to-intermediate pass catcher who has the ability to take the top of the defense with the right receiver corps around him.

Per his scouting report written by Andrew Aziz, Chark possesses the ability to run sharp routes, is a willing blocker downfield, wins at the apex of the route, adjusts well to the ball when in flight and adds special teams value wherever he goes. He does need to gain more body mass and needs to win more 50/50 opportunities, but as we’ve seen from his tape, his athleticism could be the perfect ball of clay for an offensive mind who prides himself on developing key skill-position players.