Rookie Spotlight: Chase Brown
By: Cody Folden
Another rookie spotlight where the player was an absolute weapon for his team. Chase Brown out of Illinois was a complete menace. A 5-year player, 1 at Western Michigan and 4 at Illinois, Brown racked up 676 carries for 3,558 yards in his career. Brown attended the combine and ran a 4.43 40 and a 1.53 10-yard split. He also accrued 9 straight games with over 100 yards rushing in 2022. It would have been 11 straight if it was for week 10 at Purdue where he ran for 98 yards. This year, he was impressive, averaging 5 yards per carry(328 carries on the year) and 8.9 yards per reception. Now you know his stats, let's get into the prospect.
As stated above, during his 5-year career in college he had 676 carries. In Chase Brown's 2022 campaign, he amassed 328 carries alone. Brown was the Illinois offense in some games. In 10 out of his 12 games, he reached over 20 attempts and he was a walking first down. Brown has great vision, balance, and footwork that makes him feel like he plays at 220. He isn’t the best a breaking tackles, but he always falls forward. Only two players beat him in 2022 for more yards from scrimmage, Deuce Vaughn (1936) and Bijan Robinson (1894).
Play Action Game
With 328 carries in a season, in this modern college game, you are going to see a lot of stacked boxes on the defense. One thing Brown does brilliantly is his ability to fake that he has the ball. His quarterback, Tommy Devito, and Brown knew what they were doing. They could get the defender to take a step forward and give the offense the advantage in the passing game. Brown specifically has great technique with the ball fake. Creating opportunities for his teammates to shine.
Illinois underutilized Brown in the receiving game. He had a career 58 receptions with 521 yards and 3 TDs. Chase Brown is a weapon in the open field and the hope is this gets utilized more in the NFL. Routes out of the backfield are a definite piece of his game that he excels at. He has a good plant foot. If the defender isn’t directly running at him and he can make them guess. He wins.
Some may not like that he played 5 years, or that he is already 22, turning 23 during the NFL season. Breece Hall, Kenneth Walker, Javonte Williams, and Tyler Allgeier are the only backs younger than that have a prominent role. He is seasoned in college and the play style of Illinois will help him transition into the NFL.
On film, he had a few issues last year keeping the ball secure. Brown was sometimes late switching to the correct hand and after the initial contact, it seems like he is conceding on the play, loosening his grip and bracing for more contact.
Run after contact
This is the biggest issue. Breaking tackles is very important and if initial contact was made, he is more than likely going down. Did he break tackles in games? Yes, but those are the obvious attempts where you only get a hand or arm on him and don’t trip up the ball carrier. When Brown gets physically hit, his feet die after contact and he goes down. Illinois opened holes for him to use his speed to gain yards and get into his breaks.
There are many games that could be your favorite. Brown had a 3 game stretch versus Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska where he went over 145 yards in each game. He was dominant throughout the year. One game sticks out. Illinois versus Indiana. 36 rushes for 199 yards. This game ended up being a loss for Illinois.
Ironically, if this is the only game you watch of Brown you would question my “cons” list. In the first few minutes of film, he runs physical and breaks about 3 tackles on the opening drive. Indiana ultimately snuffs him at the line of scrimmage in the endzone. The game is physical and shows he was a definite workhorse in college football last year.
Player Comparisons: Jamaal Williams, Rex Burkhead
First, one thing I haven't talked about that is very important is his vision at the line of scrimmage and finding where the openings are. Le’veon Bell was a master at this. Chase Brown is around that level. His ability to be patient and find an opening is the best in the class. Like previously stated, his plant foot does him wonders in this regard.
The player comparisons I have for Chase Brown are Jamaal Williams and Rex Burkhead. The NFL can use Chase Brown like Bill Belichick did Burkhead early in his career and Brown would succeed. The NFL could also use Chase Brown like Jamaal Williams. Comes into the league in a prove-it 3rd down role, and shows so much potential; to then splitting carries with another running back(Aaron Jones). Eventually taking another backs role (D’andre Swift), to then getting a multiyear contract in a significant role on your next team.
Chase Brown’s tape got me really excited for his NFL future. LIke every prospect though, its about where they are drafted.
I know, Rex Burkhead is on this team. The player comparison was for when he was on the Patriots. It's a good fit because Dameon Pierce is a prime candidate for a regression year. Late in the year, Pierce started leveling out late in the year. It could have been the rookie wall, or it could be Pierce getting figured out and playing to his draft position. For Pierce to be efficient you need him to get 10-15 carries. Chase Brown would be a great complement to Pierce and both would be effective in the offense.
If, and it's a big if, Derrick Henry gets traded. Chase Brown can be the every down back. Hassan Haskins and Julius Chesnut have proven they are great backups that can put in work when you need them too. They are not volume plays. Chase Brown is.
Dallas, like Houston, needs another running back, but not for the same reasons. Tony Pollard has shown he can be an effective RB1 in fantasy and the field. Dallas running 2 running back sets with Chase Brown and Tony Pollard is way scarier than it was with Ezekial Elliott last year. Defenses wouldn't be able to stack the box because both running backs could run inside and out, and also receive if needed. Perfect security blankets and broken play guys to help out Dak Prescott.
How much longer are they going to do the Antonio Gibson experiment? Personally, and preferably, for Gibson’s sanity get him off this team. Brian Robinson is the starting RB and while he is a good blocker and between the tackles runner. If Gibson wasn’t around they need a running back that knows misdirection. Jonathan Williams showed some promise late in the season last year but isn’t as dynamic as Gibson or Brown. Chase Brown could fit Antonio Gibson’s role well. Less likely this one happens, but still a decent spot to land.
Los Angeles Chargers
If Austin Ekeler really gets traded, Chase Brown could be the lead back. If he doesn’t and plays for the Chargers this year, Chase Brown would still play a significant role in the offense. We have said this many times about running backs getting drafted to them for quite some time. They will hit eventually. Chase Brown fits the scheme and could essentially fit the Chargers offensive mold.
Cody Folden joined the Dynasty Pros team in 2023. He plays in many dynasty leagues but dabbles in other leagues like devy, contract, and scouting leagues. He loves to dive deep into learning about prospects coming up through college and seeing them thrive when they get to the league.