Since 2010, North Carolina has quietly had six runnings backs drafted to the NFL. Just last year, Javonte Williams (second round) and Michael Carter (fourth round) joined the pro ranks after stellar campaigns. Although Ty Chandler may not go as high as the two RBs before him, his scouting report discusses why he will be selected in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Ty Chandler NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Running Back
- School: North Carolina
- Current Year: Graduate Senior
- Height: 5’10 7/8″
- Weight: 204 pounds
- Wingspan: 75 6/8″
- Arm: 32 1/8″
- Hand: 8 7/8″
Ty Chandler Scouting Report
Williams and Carter left big shoes to fill in Chapel Hill. And as he has proven throughout his career, Chandler was up for the challenge. Behind a less-than-ideal offensive line, he rushed for over 1,000 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2021. After four years of flashes at Tennessee, Chandler finally put his talents on full display at North Carolina.
While his season boosted his draft stock (including a 213-yard, 4-TD performance against Wake Forest), Chandler continued his ascension during the pre-draft process. First up was the East-West Shrine Bowl. Chandler routinely put on a show at practice, displaying excellent receiving ability in 1-on-1s and even scoring back-to-back touchdowns during goal-line drills.
Chandler capped off his Shrine Bowl experience with 69 yards on 11 attempts in the all-star game itself, rattling off two runs of 15+ yards. Yet, the UNC RB wasn’t done. He turned his attention toward the NFL Combine, logging a 4.38 40-yard dash (third-fastest among RBs), 31″ vertical, and 10’1″ broad. While his jumps were solid, the 40 time is what will have NFL scouts giving Chandler another look.
Although he entered the year under the radar outside of the Tennessee fan base, Chandler has risen into the mid-Day 3 discussion for the NFL Draft. It’s a deep running back class, but I believe the North Carolina RB has done enough to separate himself from the lower tiers.
Where Chandler wins
Chandler’s key attributes are his patience and explosiveness. He allows his blockers to create space for him and explodes through the hole. At the beginning of his career at Tennessee, Chandler would try to plow through whatever crease he initially saw. Yet, at North Carolina and the Shrine Bowl, he displayed a newfound patient running style that saw his yards per carry (4.6 to 6.0) jump.
Additionally, in four years with the Vols, Chandler generated 24 runs of 15+ yards. How many did he register with the Tar Heels in one season? 19. He also looked shiftier in the open field, making defenders miss with subtle shoulder fakes after the handoff. In the open field, Chandler can vary his speed, deceiving LBs and DBs into coming downhill before he bursts outside.
The UNC RB also owns a deadly two-step move that breaks defenders down, offering him a window to gain more yardage. He is light on his feet and stays low to absorb contact when trucking through holes. His contact balance is superb, though it may not translate when facing bigger NFL linebackers. Nevertheless, it’s important to note, as in the open field, he can maintain his balance through ankle tackles and bounce off shoulder hits.
Chandler plays with a visible passion, both with the ball in his hands and without. He blocks downfield for scrambling QBs or receivers and often lays the final blow before the whistle. He gives effort as a pass blocker, but his size will limit him in that capacity. Still, he kept his head on a swivel for threats and helped his lineman with a chip before taking on blitzers.
Although he finished his career with just 73 receptions, Chandler has demonstrated an innate ability to catch passes. He owns soft hands and looks throws in. Furthermore, he can press linebackers down the seam, adjust to throws, and make catches with collisions near.
“I received good feedback on [my pass-catching abilities],” Chandler said at the UNC Pro Day. “It is something I will continue to work on and just incorporate more into my game. I want to be a true threat. It is something I’m constantly working on and want to get better at.”
Chandler also possesses special-teams experience as a kick returner. In his career, he took 38 kicks for 850 yards and a score. His lateral quickness and ability to string together quick cuts make him dangerous against tacklers. Moreover, Chandler’s weight distribution maneuvering is impressive, as he sinks his hips to explode between cuts. The North Carolina back’s feet follow his eyes, allowing him to efficiently hit holes and bounce through cutback lanes.
Across 600+ carries, Chandler has fumbled just 4 times. As a receiver, he has dropped just 5 of 91 targets. In the NFL, nothing will get you in the dog house quicker than fumbles and drops at the running back position. That shouldn’t be an issue for Chandler.
Areas for improvement
While I’ve raved about Chandler, there are some areas for improvement. While his patience is a plus, there are times on tape when he can take too long to process and press the gas pedal. This is especially significant as he transitions to the NFL, where rushing lanes fade faster than at the college level.
Furthermore, Chandler’s frame just isn’t conducive to a powerful play style. Teams can’t expect to have him on the goal line to punch touchdowns in. He has the want-to, but his build doesn’t allow him to run over looming defenders in the box. This also translates to the open field, where longer-armed opponents may bring Chandler down more often than he is used to.
Even against SEC and ACC competition, Chandler could be tracked down from behind on longer runs, meaning NFL DBs will be able to at an even higher rate. The UNC RB could also stand to square his pads earlier on rushing plays and speed up his pace at the line.
Overall, Chandler owns average NFL elusiveness, top speed, and below-average ability through contact. While none of those are death knells to his draft stock, they combine to hinder his upside.
Chandler’s Player Profile
Chandler didn’t have to wait too long to dominate on the high school stage. As a sophomore at Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville, Tennessee, the future Vols commit rushed for 1,348 yards and 22 scores while leading MBA to its first state title since 2007. In each of the next two seasons, Chandler rushed for 2,000+ yards and 30+ TDs, with the school coming in as the runner-up in the championship round.
The star RB concluded his high school career with 6,158 rushing yards (seventh) and 92 touchdowns (third), both ranking in the top 10 in state history. As a result, the 247Sports Composite rated Chandler as the 67th recruit in the nation, fifth-best running back, and fifth overall prospect in Tennessee.
Chandler received nine offers from SEC programs on top of Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and USC. But in the end, the allure of playing close to home and seeing the field proved too good to pass up.
“I just felt like it’s a great opportunity and an opportunity to possibly come in and play as a freshman,” Chandler said after committing to Tennessee. “Staying close to home and being able to have family come to games was important.”
Chandler’s career at Tennessee and North Carolina
Although John Kelly firmly held the starting role for the Vols, Chandler quickly earned RB2 duties. As a true freshman, he played in all 12 games and served as the team’s leading kick returner. After Kelly left for the NFL, Chandler and Tim Jordan split carries in 2018. Chandler rushed 115 times for 630 yards (5.5 per carry) and 4 TDs, adding another 3 scores as a receiver.
There was yet another mouth to feed in 2019 as Eric Gray joined the fray. All three backs received 100+ carries, with Chandler leading the way with 656 yards. But by 2020, it was primarily Gray’s backfield as Chandler returned to his initial RB2 role. Thus, when the Tennessee native saw an opportunity to be the lead back, he took it.
Chandler transferred to North Carolina with the 1-2 punch of Javonte Williams and Michael Carter off to the NFL. It also helped that Chandler had ties to running backs coach Robert Gillespie (now with Alabama) and co-defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Tommy Thigpen, who recruited the RB to Tennessee before joining the Tar Heels.
In his only season sporting the Carolina blue, Chandler recorded career highs in carries (182), rushing yards (1,092), rushing touchdowns (13), and receiving yards (216). Safe to say, his decision to move from the SEC to the ACC was beneficial.
What they’re saying about Chandler
“Really like him, I think in the fifth/sixth-round area. When you go back to the games I watched — Miami, Florida, Wake Forest — he was a dynamic performer, went over 1,000 yards. I like the way that he follows his blocks. He really strings his cuts together, which is impressive.” — ESPN senior writer Todd McShay
“He’s really dangerous when he beats the line of scrimmage … I think as we secure the line of scrimmage, and Ty beats it, he’s special and hard to tackle. He’s a downhill kid and has tremendous speed.” — UNC offensive coordinator Phil Longo
Chandler’s NFL Draft ascension
I have the same opinion as ESPN’s McShay: Chandler is a Round 5-6 back. His special-teams ability, pass-catching prowess, and eagerness to succeed will endear him to a team looking for a depth piece on Day 3. He may never lead a backfield, but he can play in the league for a long time.
Comparing running backs is a little easier than other positions, and Chandler flashes shades of former Miami (FL) RB Lamar Miller. Both players share similar builds, kick returning experience, ACC production, and rushing style. However, Miller was a bit more creative, shifty, and sudden with the ball in his hands.
- Miller (2012 Combine/Pro Day): 5’10 3/4″, 215 pounds, 31 3/8″ arms, 4.38 40-yard dash, 33″ vertical, 10″ broad
- Chandler (2022 Combine): 5’10 7/8″, 204 pounds, 32 1/8″ arms, 4.38 40-yard dash, 31″ vertical, 10’1″ broad
Miller heard his name called in Round 4 of the 2012 NFL Draft, but Chandler will have to wait for a round or two longer due to the current positional value of running backs and slightly lesser physical tools.
One team linked to the UNC RB is the New York Giants. At UNC’s Pro Day, Giants RB coach DeAndre Smith worked extensively with Chandler. Currently, NYG owns four selections on Day 3: a fourth, two fifths, and a sixth.
Behind Saquon Barkley (who has dealt with significant injuries) is Matt Breida and a whole lot of space for improvement. Both head coach Brian Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka have zone-rushing backgrounds and like to involve their backs in the receiving game. It makes sense for them to use a late pick on Chandler, who fits perfectly into that mold of RB.