Chase Brown, RB, Illinois | NFL Draft Scouting Report

One-half of Illinois' Big Ten terrorizing twins, RB Chase Brown's scouting report predicts his range of outcomes in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Illinois’ 2022 campaign was headlined by their downright dominant defense led by a multitude of NFL Draft prospects, including safety Sydney Brown. Yet, while Sydney was shutting down opponents on one side of the field, his twin brother, RB Chase Brown, was cooking them on offense, and his scouting report provides the ingredients for a tempting 2023 NFL Draft prospect.

Chase Brown NFL Draft Profile

  • Position: Running Back
  • School: Illinois
  • Current Year: Redshirt Senior
  • Height/Weight: 5’9 1/2″, 209 pounds
  • Length: 31″
  • Hand Size: 10″

After starring for two years at London South Collegiate Institute in Ontario, Canada, Brown transferred to St. Stephen’s Episcopal in Florida for more exposure. There, he helped lead the school to a state title in his first year, rushing for 1,416 yards and 19 TDs.

In just two seasons, Brown became the program’s all-time leading rusher (2,924) while also setting the 100m track record (10.88) and anchoring the 400m relay team.

As a three-star recruit, he opted to commit to Western Michigan despite more enticing Power Five offers, stating the main reason he signed with the Broncos was “for their aviation program.”

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But after taking 71 carries for 352 yards, Brown entered the transfer portal and ultimately joined his brother at Illinois. Four years later, he reshaped his body, gaining 25+ pounds. With his physical transformation came utter dominance on the field as Brown rushed his way to second place in the Fighting Illini’s all-time record books (3,206 yards).

Following a redshirt season his first year in Champaign, Brown served as a rotational piece in 2020 and the full-time starter in 2021. Yet, he saved his best for last. While Sydney and the defense shut down the opposition, Chase was Illinois’ offense, generating 100+ rushing yards in 10 of 12 games last season, including 98 yards in one of those two other contests.

With his on-field success came off-field recognition, as Brown was a Doak Walker Award finalist (first in school history), second-team All-American, second-team All-Big Ten, and received invites to the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine. But does Brown’s scouting report transcend the production, or will he get lost in a seemingly loaded 2023 NFL Draft RB class?

Chase Brown Scouting Report

During the season, head coach Bret Bielema praised Brown and actively lobbied for him to be in the Heisman conversation:

“He got a little bit of pub last year then has kinda been on the scene, but if there’s a better player in college football that has had (more of) an effect on his program, I’d like to know who it is. … I reached out to (the people in) my phone and my contacts about how special this young man is.”

Strengths

  • Compact build — highlighted by a powerful lower half — provides the foundation for solid contact balance.
  • Owns the speed to take any touch to the house (4.43 40-yard dash).
  • Has the ability to plant and explode upfield with sharp cuts, keeping balance throughout. Recorded a 40″ vertical and 10’7″ broad at the Combine, both best among RBs in attendance.
  • Showed he can handle a bell-cow workload (20+ touches in each game last season).
  • Will press gaps, forcing LBs to fill, before cutting to the outside.
  • Patient runner, allowing blocks to set up before accelerating through holes.
  • Controlled footwork behind the line and in between gaps maximizes play design.
  • Exhibited potential as a receiver with soft hands and decent route running.

Areas for Improvement

  • Ball security must improve — six fumbles last season (five rushing, one receiving).
  • Has wore done some tread on the tires with 675 carries already under his belt.
  • Not an overly strong back to push piles in short-yardage and goal-to-go situations.
  • A bit of a one-speed runner, lacking a consistent second gear when reaching the second level.
  • Will stop his feet heading into contact between the tackles, limiting the potential for extra yardage.
  • Inconsistent pass blocker — extends beyond his toes and dips his head into contact (clear to see during 1-on-1s at the Senior Bowl).
  • Occasionally bounces runs outside rather than lowering his shoulders for tough yards.
  • Lacks creativity as a runner — will give you what his blockers provide but not much else.
  • Stands practically straight up in his stance with feet inside his shoulders, forcing wasted motion after the snap to get into a spring-loaded position.

Illinois RB Chase Brown Current Draft Projection

There are things to nitpick about Brown’s game, but from a total-package perspective, it’s easy to see where he’d best fit in the NFL. While most offenses could use his services as a change-of-pace back, Brown is best suited for an outside/wide-zone-heavy scheme that utilizes his one-cut skill set to pressure the edges.

There is a great deal of RB talent in the NFL, and this is a deep class. However, Brown offers something you can’t coach: speed. Angle-changing, tackle-evading, home-run-creating speed.

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Positional value and his semi-limited profile will likely keep him out of Day 2, but on early-to-mid-Day 3, I’d have no issue with a team adding Brown to their committee. Let another back grind out the short-yardage situations and come in to pass protect while setting Brown loose as a chunk-gaining runner and receiver.

Similar to his twin, Chase’s football journey has allowed him to explore North America, even adding one more stop than Sydney (Western Michigan). Next stop: the NFL Draft, where one lucky fanbase will come to adore Brown’s play style, while the other 31 will come to despise facing him.

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