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2023 NFL Draft prospect profile - Chase Brown, RB, Illinois

Did Brown make himself money at the Combine?

NCAA Football: Chattanooga at Illinois Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The running back class in the 2023 NFL Draft is deep and talented. Not only are the top backs potential Rookie of The Year candidates, but teams will be finding starters throughout the draft.

Illinois running back Chase Brown emerged in 2022 to be one of the most productive runners in the country. He also turned in a memorable performance at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine, and proved he belonged with the big-name prospects. Is Brown one of the hidden gems in the draft, or did he put the nation on notice in Indy?

Prospect: Chase Brown (2)
Games Watched: vs. Wisconsin (2022), vs. Iowa (2022), vs. Minnesota (2022), vs. Michigan (2022)


Courtesy Ken Lee Platte (@mathbomb) |

Career Stats

Games Played: 45

Carries: 676
Yards (YPC): 3,558 (5.3 per carry)
Receptions: 58
Yards (YPC): 521 (9.0 per catch)
Total Touchdowns (rushing/receiving): 21 (18 rushing, 3 receiving)

2022 Stats

Games Played: 12
Carries: 328
Yards (YPC): 1,643 (5.0 per carry)
Receptions: 27
Yards (YPC): 240 (8.9 per catch)
Total Touchdowns (rushing/receiving): 13 (10 rushing, 3 receiving)

Quick Summary

Best: Explosiveness, jump cut, long speed, competitive toughness
Worst: Creativity, power
Projection: An important rotational back in a down-hill running scheme.

Game Tape

Full Report

Illinois’ Chase Brown is a compact, explosive, consistent, and competitive running back who has been very productive for the Illini.

Brown has a dense, compact frame at 5-foot 9 ½ inches, 209 pounds, but is also an explosive athlete for any size, running a 4.43 second 40-yard dash with a 40-inch vertical leap. While Brown didn’t see much use in his first four seasons, he was a very high volume runner in 2022, with nearly half of his career production coming in that one season.

Brown carried the ball in a variety of blocking schemes and alignments, as Illinois used both inside and outside zone, pin and pull concepts, and some man-gap in their rushing attack. He also carried the ball in the “I” and Power-I formation (with a fullback), and from beside the quarterback in the shotgun. Brown is a very quick-striding runner with explosive acceleration after taking the hand-off. He doesn’t need much runway to get going behind the line of scrimmage, and is a capable runner on quick-hitting concepts.

Brown is a one-cut runner who has good patience behind the line of scrimmage. He is very faithful to the play design and gives his linemen time to establish their blocks. His explosive acceleration gives him a good burst through the line of scrimmage, and he also has the speed to gain the edge on off-tackle runs. Brown does a good job of pressing his path to the line of scrimmage, before using an explosive jump-cut to attack the running lane. Brown shows good vision, contact balance, and speed once through the line of scrimmage. He’s able to lower his center of gravity to survive incidental contact at the second level and is a handful for defensive backs to bring down. He also has enough speed to sustain separation from defenders in the open field, leading to chunk plays or touchdowns.

Brown is capable in the passing game, both as a receiver and as a pass protector. He presents a good target for his quarterback and is a natural “hands” catcher as a check-down option. Likewise, he is a willing blocker who’s unafraid to put his body on the line against bigger defenders.

While Brown’s faithfulness to the play design is generally a strength, he can be too faithful at times. Brown isn’t a particularly creative runner, and can run into defenders while following the play design. He can also be very dependant on the blocking and his patience can make it relatively easy for defenders to bring him down behind the line of scrimmage. Brown was also not used as more of a check-down option than a true receiver in Illinois’ offense. He could also stand to improve his pass protection technique so he doesn’t rely entirely on cut-blocking defenders.

Brown is much more of a slashing runner than a true power running back. He doesn’t lack play strength per se, but he also isn’t the type of runner to push the pile or punish defenders who try to tackle him.

Overall Grade: 7.0


Illinois running back Chase Brown projects as an important rotational back in a downhill offense at the NFL level.

He is at his best when he’s allowed to be a “one cut and go” runner. He has an explosive jump-cut, but isn’t the type of runner to string multiple moves together and “out athlete” defenders. Brown also doesn’t freelance and is very faithful to the design of the play. That can make him dependable for coaches and his teammates, but it can also make him very dependent on his blockers.

Brown was a consistent chain-mover for the Illinois offense in 2022. He did a good job of keeping the offense on schedule and was able to compensate for his early runs of little to no gain with chunk yardage or explosive plays once he got a feel for the defense.

NFL teams might want to use Brown in a rotation with either a bigger power runner or with a third down specialist. Teams might want to pair Brown’s explosiveness with a runner who can push the pile in short-yardage or goal line situations. Conversely, he wasn’t used as a true receiver in Illinois’ offense (at least in the tape viewed), and teams might want to use a back who is more polished as a pass protector or receiver in third downs. That said, Brown should be a productive runner early in his career for the right team.