Regardless of whether the head coach calling the shots was Les Miles or his replacement Ed Orgeron, LSU has primarily relied upon a powerful running game to ignite its offense with pass-catchers - regardless of how dynamic they are - typically serving as complementary big play threats.
Just ask current NFL stars Odell Beckham, Jr. (12) and Jarvis Landry (15), who caught a combined 27 touchdowns in 80 career games together with the Tigers with each eclipsing the 1,000 yard receiving mark just once during that time. Comparing their totals to that of receivers playing in high-octane offenses in the Pac-12 and Big 12, for example, simply does not do them justice - which is why savvy scouts focus more on athletic traits like size, speed, agility and strength rather than box scores to set their draft boards.
From strictly an athletic traits perspective, then, it is hard to argue that LSU's latest big play threat - Chark - deserves mentioning with the elite receivers of the 2018 NFL draft, though his relatively meager statistics provide little proof.
Just like Beckham and Landry (and most receivers across the college football landscape), Chark's most impressive season - statistically-speaking - was his last one. He was one of the best big play artists in the game in 2017, averaging an eye-popping 23.2 yards on a career-high 35 receptions, which was 38% more catches than any other LSU receiver (22) over the regular season. Not surprisingly, Chark led the Tigers in receiving yards (811) and tied with two other Tigers with three touchdown receptions while starting all 12 games. Chark also rushed 12 times for 63 yards and a score and earned Second Team All-SEC honors as a returner, averaging a conference-best 11.7 yards per punt return, scoring twice.
Chark showed similar big play chops as a junior while starting just six of 12 games, finishing second to current Buffalo Bills wideout Malachi Dupre (41 catches for 593 yards and three touchdowns) with a 26-466-3 line, averaging a healthy 17.9 yards per grab. He rushed 12 times in 2016, as well, averaging 10.2 yards per attempt and scoring two touchdowns but was not used as a returner.
Chark, a four-star recruit, only officially touched the ball once over his first two seasons at LSU. Perhaps not surprisingly, he scored a touchdown on that touch, taking an end-around 79 yards for a score against Texas Tech in the Texas Bowl to close out the 2015 season.
Chark's tantalizing combination of size and speed has captured the attention of scouts and he was invited to the Senior Bowl for them to get a closer look. He is understandably not as polished as many of the other receivers there but an impressive showing in Mobile and in workouts could have his stock vaulting as the draft approaches.
A four-star prospect by ESPN.com and a member of the ESPN 300 ... Ranked as a three-star recruit according to 247Sports, Scout.com and Rivals.com ... Hauled in 48 receptions for 554 yards and three touchdowns as a senior on the way to earning Louisiana Class 5A All-State Honorable Mention ... Full name is Darrell Chark Jr. but goes by "D.J." Switched to jersey No. 7 for 2017 after wearing No. 82 the past two seasons.
Offers a tantalizing combination of height and straight-line speed. Possesses an athletic, well-distributed build with long limbs and very strong hands. Rarely pressed at the line of scrimmage out of respect for his speed but shows a good hesitation move and strong, active hands to gain a quick release. Wasn't asked to run a full route tree in this offense but is surprisingly polished as a route-runner, exploding out of his cuts to create easy separation. Generally reliable hands with the ability to pluck outside of his frame as well as corral over his shoulder.
Long arms, flexibility and excellent hand strength to give quarterbacks a huge catch radius. Impressive hand-eye coordination, body control and awareness of the sideline, showing the ability to make late adjustments to deflected passes (see Mississippi State, 2016) and drag both feet to make catches in bounds. Good vision and agility once the ball is in his hands, setting up his blocks well and showing no hesitation to cut through congestion. Physical and competitive, fighting for extra yardage and aggressively pursuing defenders (and looking for others to hit) when blocking for teammates. Voted a team captain in 2017. - Rob Rang 12/21/2017
Does not always look natural catching the ball with too many "easy" drops on tape (see Mississippi State, 2016). Occasionally jumps needlessly as the ball approaches or fails to use proper hand technique, attempting to secure the ball more with his forearms (like a running back taking a handoff) than "creating the spade" with his thumbs and forefingers touching. Does not consistently show the same aggression when fighting for 50-50 balls that he does as a downfield blocker, failing to snare passes at their highest point and too often wilting to contact. Though often put in motion, was rarely asked to run routes over the middle and will likely take some time to adjust if asked to do this in the NFL. - Rob Rang 12/21/2017
Torrey Smith, Philadelphia Eagles - Chark has a taller, leaner frame than the 6-1, 205 pound Smith but his value as a premier deep threat remains the same. Like Smith, Chark will enter the NFL needing development in some of the finer points of the position but his size, raw athleticism and experience against elite competition suggest that he could develop into a formidable weapon on the perimeter and return game.
IN OUR VIEW:In terms of the size-speed-strength factor that most scouts value over statistics, Chark is the most intriguing senior receiver in the 2018 NFL draft. As his meager career totals suggest, Chark lacks polish but he offers immediate big play potential as a perimeter receiver and punt returner with the athletic upside to develop into a longtime starter.