At 6-foot-3, 198 pounds and a 40-yard dash time of 4.34 (which was the fastest of any receiver at the NFL Combine), DJ Chark has the prototypical makeup of what NFL teams want in a wide receiver.
Through two weeks of training camp Chark has easily been the most impressive rookie of the Jaguars 2018 draft class. The second-round pick out of LSU has held his own while battling All-Pro cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye.
— Brian Jackson (@WJXTBJackson) August 1, 2018
“They make me a whole lot better,” said Chark of facing Ramsey and Bouye. “When I’m out there you can’t get away with anything. They don’t take it easy on you because you’re a rookie or anything like that. They know that I want the best and I want to be the best. So they go extra hard to make sure I don’t get the ball. They do a great job of taking away certain routes. That’s what I want to see because I’m not going to face many corners like them.”
The Jaguars released their first unofficial depth chart depth chart on Monday and Chark is listed on the second team offense backing up fellow receiver Marqise Lee. Jacksonville doesn’t have a true No. 1 wide-out, but instead of battling for that distinction the receivers have instead focused on supporting each other.
“The guys in there are close on and off the field, which you hear is something that isn’t common in the NFL,” said Chark. “The guys in that room really support each other. We come and work every day. We take a lot of reps [repetitions] and when somebody goes down (with an injury) we try and step in for them.”
Chark will play in his first NFL game Thursday when the Jaguars open up their preseason schedule against the New Orleans Saints. Instead of targeting a certain amount of catches, yards or touchdowns for his debut, the rookie has a much wiser goal in mind.
“No mental errors,” said Chark. “I think if I can go out there without making any mental mistakes the rest will take care of itself. I think that’s the biggest part of the game right now for me is the mental aspect of it. So if I can go out there and be mentally sharp I feel like everything else will come together.”
Last season the Jaguars relied heavily on rookie wide receivers Keelan Cole and Dede Westbrook. So far offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett has been impressed with how Chark has picked up their offensive system.
“He has been able to move around and play multiple positions, which as a rookie in a brand new system, that’s always a challenge” said Hackett. “Especially when you add up the speed with it. You have guys like Jalen [Ramsey] and A.J. [Bouye], all of those guys out there. You’re asking him to go outside, inside. His route tree is very expansive. He has done a really good job embracing it, not letting it overtake him. He just keeps on working and keeps on learning.”