Chase Brown NFL Draft Scouting Report
RB, Illinois Fighting Illini
Illinois RB Chase Brown projects as a viable high-volume runner in the right system. He’s got ample speed to burn and took important steps in 2022 to showcase himself as a high-volume runner who is capable of carrying a significant workload for periods of time if needed. He may not be a true mismatch, do-it-all type of back, but he’s a home-run hitter with track speed and good instincts as a ball carrier. That’s a pretty good foundation for outside-zone-heavy teams looking to get fresh legs in their running back stable.
Originally a three-star recruit, Brown hails from London, Ontario, Canada. Brown has a twin brother, Sydney, who is a successful safety prospect also at Illinois. The Brown twins’ father, Darren, played three seasons in the CFL, helping to build a clear eye and feel for the game. Brown’s background includes some impressive athletic feats of his own as well—he averaged nearly 16 yards per carry with 1,500 rushing yards and 27 touchdowns as a senior and anchored St. Stephen Episcopal’s 4×100 state championship relay team. Originally attending Western Michigan, Brown spent one season with the Broncos before transferring to the Illini program.
On the field, Brown is an explosive runner whose track speed is obvious when he is provided with soft edges or he’s able to quickly press through the A-level of the defense. He’s got dynamic acceleration and is quick to break angles of pursuit in the secondary, which allowed him to gouge defenses seemingly weekly en route to a career year with the Illini in 2022. Brown was handed the role of feature runner in 2022, alleviating one of his biggest questions entering the year. He responded by running decisively, processing action in the front effectively on both the first and second levels of the defense. Brown’s foot quickness allows him to set up tacklers and empowers him to remain patient on his runs pressing the line of scrimmage. He trusts his ability to get geared back up in a hurry and will force defenders to commit to gaps before breaking against their commitment and into space.
Brown also showed growth as a pass-catcher this season, logging nearly half of his career receptions and receiving yards (and all of his career receiving touchdowns) in 2022. Illinois implemented him on swing routes and rail routes out of the backfield and on more than one occasion he found a lot of grass and created a big play. He was used in the screen game as well, offering a sufficient sell of pass protection before peeling back to his quarterback and setting up blocks in space. I appreciate Brown’s feel for capturing the edge and his functional athleticism; they’re staples that will afford him opportunities. But there’s room for growth in a few areas as well.
One area for Brown that may be a limiting area of his game is between the tackles and in short-yardage situations. Brown has an impressive total of yards after contact but I wouldn’t consider him to be a consistent pile-pusher or a runner who plays through contact. Defenders can box him in and generally stifle his push. He had one exchange versus Wisconsin when he had multiple efforts inside the 5-yard line and failed to churn the pile or fall out of contact to score.
His build doesn’t offer the kind of density that will pose challenges in the box; I think he’s a hard runner but he doesn’t run with a lot of pop behind his pads. This barrier is evident in pass protection as well. I’m impressed with Brown’s palette for the role and he appears to identify pressure opportunities and assignments well but he doesn’t stifle upfield push consistently enough and will crowd his quarterback on passing downs in the backfield as a result. He needs to become a better striker in this role to command reps here consistently.
Lastly, I’d like to see Brown find more discipline to press some of his runs into traffic to play for hard yards. I did feel as though he left some opportunities out on the field by bouncing to the perimeter instead of embracing contact and fighting for tough yards through traffic.
Brown has the potential to be an impact ball carrier in the right system, but I do think he is a scheme and fit-dependent player who will not have the same kind of success in every environment. Teams that look to press to the edge and can rely on his foot quickness and vision to cut against the grain on outside concepts will reap the most benefit from Brown’s skills—especially if they’re able to pair him with a physical back to carry the load between the tackles and in short-yardage situations. Brown can continue to grow in the pros to be a more well-balanced player, but he’s an obvious role filler early on as a rookie.
Top Reasons to Buy In:
- Elite speed to the perimeter and proven home-run hitting ability
- Promising explosion as a bellcow back in 2022 with a significant workload
- Light feet to create subtle cuts and bend runs with pace through the point of attack
- Shows good appetite for pass protection
Top Reasons For Concern:
- Does not appear to have the power to move the pile and earn tough yards between the tackles
- Will likely get rotated out in short-yardage and goal-line situations for a heavier back
- Currently catches too many blows in protection, conceding space that could compromise his QB
- Passes on hard yardage to bounce to the perimeter at times
Size (NFL Combine):
Height: 5′ 9 1/2”
Weight: 205 lbs
Arm Length: 31”
Hand Size: 10”
Athletic Testing (NFL Combine):
40-yard Dash: 4.43s
Vertical Jump: 40”
Broad Jump: 10′ 7”
Bench Reps: 25 reps
Ideal Role: Rotational running back
Scheme Fit: Wide-zone-heavy scheme as a perimeter runner
Prospect Comparison: Raheem Mostert (2015 NFL Draft)
TDN Consensus Grade: 78.00/100 (Third-Round Value)
- Crabbs Grade: 78.00/100
Written By: Kyle Crabbs
Exposures: Indiana (2022), Virginia (2022), Wisconsin (2022), Minnesota (2022), Michigan (2022)
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