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2021 NFL Draft

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The Chase Is On For Bengals: "I'm going to break every record they've got'

Ja'Marr Chase gets the call.
Ja'Marr Chase gets the call.

Ja'Marr Chase has been drafted like A.J. Green but he talks like Chad Johnson, celebrates with end-zone dances like Chad Ocho Cinco and brings college accomplishments like no rookie NFL wide receiver before him.

Moments after being drafted with the fifth pick in Thursday night's first round of the NFL Draft, Chase was asked what he knew about the Bengals' glittering legacy at wide receiver.

"I'm going to break every record they've got. That's my goal right there. I'm telling you right now," said Chase, Zooming in his first news conference with the Cincinnati media from backstage at the draft in Cleveland. "I don't know how I'm going to do it, but it's going to get done."

Head coach Zac Taylor and offensive coordinator Brian Callahan made no bones about it. Chase is here because they felt like he was the best player on the board at No. 5 and that included Oregon left tackle Penei Sewell.

Chase, who says he can play inside and outside, is the highest drafted receiver in Bengals history next to Green's No. 4 in 2011 and he has goals just as high. And he's been known to reach them. He says he wants to win Rookie of the Year and score 10 touchdowns with at least 1,500 yards. Minimum. No Bengal has ever caught 1,500 yards in a season. No Bengals rookie receiver has caught 10 TDs.

But don't sell him short. During Chase's magical 2019 season, he kept a list of goals tucked in his mirror: 10 TDs, 1,500 yards and once the season got rolling he added the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's best receiver.

So he's coming to the right place since the guy who helped him reach all his college goals, LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, is now the Bengals quarterback. In 2019 they hooked up for 20 touchdown passes and 1,700 yards in a national championship season and on Thursday morning Burrow had a text for his old friend.

"Get your bags packed," Chase said. "So that means I was going to be the pick. I didn't know if that was a hint or what. He sent me that text this morning and I said, 'OK, I'm ready bro."

(Another number Chase wants to be the first to reach Bengaldom is No. 1, his jersey in Baton Rouge. The Bengals have never assigned it in their 53 previous seasons. But he'll ask.) 

Burrow, who already titillated Bengals fans earlier Thursday with an Instagram post of him going deep in California, had been in touch with Chase three or four times during the draft process and Chase got a kick out of Burrow tying to low key it as he tried to tell him he was joining him.

"I was believing him sometimes and sometimes I was like, stop playing with me," Chase said. And sometimes I was like, 'OK, bro. I got you.' I believed him this morning when he told me to pack my bags. That's when I took his word."

That's not the first time. They've been bonding since the summer of 2019.

 "He definitely taught me some things when I was at LSU. I think this will be easy," Chase says. "I like the way Joe carries himself. He's always calm, very collected and he's not afraid to tell you something. That's something I love from my quarterback. Me and him are always on the same page, communicating about the defense and the offense. . I'm always willing to learn and have an open ear when Joe's talking to me."

 One time Chase couldn't help laughing when Burrow jumped on him for lathering up his arms with IcyHot on a cold day against Mississippi.

"He told me to take it off because it was making the ball slippery," Chase said. "That was actually a funny moment. I wasn't expecting him to get on me like that."

Chase, from suburban New Orleans, made like the Ocho and celebrated touchdowns with a high-profile dance. When they were at LSU, fellow wide receiver Justin Jefferson drove "The Gritty," and Chase picked it up to help honor their hometown.

"We took it really big," Chase said. "It really took off. I'm glad it's on video games; it's pretty cool. It's amazing watching stuff like that happen in front of our eyes."

Chase certainly looked cool during his first trip to Ohio, accompanied by his parents, his brother, his cousin, his agents, head coach Ed Orgeron, and receivers coach Mickey Joseph. He wore a suit jacket lined with pictures of his support group of family and friends.

"I just wanted to show my love and support like they've been doing," Chase said. "It's me giving that love back like they've been (giving) to me."

He also wore orange-and-black shoes. It wasn't planned, but in Chad-like fashion it fit the moment.

"It's crazy, the shoes were a last-minute pick," Chase said. "I like how they looked in my suit, so I stayed with it. I had to get an orange handkerchief to make sure it looked correct."

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