Chase Brown capped off his college career with back-to-back thousand-yard seasons. The kid from Canada spent time at two schools and has been fighting to prove himself his whole life. You love seeing a prospect steadily improve throughout his career, but are the biggest concerns outside of his control? This is an extremely deep running back draft class. Where does Brown rank amongst the rest? Let’s take a deep look!
- College: Western Michigan & University of Illinois
- Height: 5094 (5’9″)
- Weight: 215
- Age: 23
- Year: Senior
- Draft Projection: Late Day Two – Early Day Three
High School & Personal Life
Brown is not on this NFL journey by himself. His twin brother Sydney Brown has accompanied him every step of the way. The two of them grew up in London, Ontario, Canada. With both brothers having aspirations of making it big one day, they made the tough decision to uproot and move to Florida for their Junior and Senior years. They spent those two years living with a sponsored family, which must have been tough on a pair of teenagers.
Brown was super successful as a running back at Saint Stephen’s Episcopal School in Bradenton, Florida. He set the school’s career rushing record despite only playing two years there. Sydney eventually committed to Illinois as a safety, while Chase took his skills to Western Michigan as a running back. Despite his production, he was only a three-star recruit, according to 247sports.
A Rough Start
Brown’s time at Western Michigan was brief in both playing time and time spent on campus. He was there for the 2018 season and accumulated only 189 snaps in his 14 games. In 2019 he transferred to the University of Illinois and was reunited with his twin brother Sydney. Due to some complications with the transfer process, Brown used 2019 as a redshirt year and only appeared in four games.
Having settled all his transfer status issues and being reunited with his twin, 2020 looked like a take-off season for the Brown brothers until COVID derailed everything. Sydney and Chase moved back to Canada and began focusing on their workout routine with the status of the Big Ten season in question. The Big Ten schools finally agreed on a shortened 2020 season where they only played within the conference. Brown had a respectable season, with over 500 yards rushing on only 102 carries.
Time To Shine
With COVID and the transfer portal behind him, Brown took advantage of the 2021 and 2022 seasons to establish himself as a dominant college producer. His 2021 season ended with 170 carries for 1,005 yards and five touchdowns. In 2022, he eclipsed 1,632 yards on 329 attempts and ten touchdowns. However, in 2022 fumbles did become an issue to keep an eye on.
Senior Bowl Interview
I was lucky to spend one-on-one time with Brown when I attended the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. He was kind enough to give me a few minutes of his time and answer my questions. Here is the transcript of that conversation:
Dan: We know you and your brother grew up in Canada before moving to Florida for your senior years. How much of a culture shock was that for you guys?
Chase: It was a really quick transition; I know we got accepted one day, and my mom was driving back to Canada the next. We were in a new city with a new family in a new school, with no friends. Talk about being able to rely on each other and pushing each other through adversity. But it was an opportunity to improve and take the next step forward. But also build a relationship with our host family that will last a lifetime. They were great people, and how they affected both of us was unlike what many would do in such a situation. Accepting two kids from Canada that you don’t even know.
Dan: That took a lot of courage; it had to be nerve-racking uprooting your whole life for something you are passionate about.
Chase: Honestly, we were looking forward to it. We needed a shot down south to play football and showcase what we could do there. But you talk about nerves and not knowing what to expect, bringing in two kids from another country you don’t know. That takes bravery as well.
Dan: So you guys didn’t wind up at Illinois right away; you started at Western Michigan and were able to transfer over eventually. How much of a goal was that to you, to reunite with your brother and play in college together?
Chase: It was something we talked about almost every week growing up together. When signing day came around, I wanted to be a football player, and Sydney wanted to be a football player. The biggest thing was that flight fees were a lot once I got to Western Michigan. I couldn’t pay for them, and an athletic scholarship couldn’t cover them. I knew it wasn’t the right place for me. There was an opportunity at Illinois that I would have taken.
Dan: That’s awesome, so last question. Day one, how has this experience been for you? Any big takeaways? Just give me a quick summary.
Chase: Yeah, Day One, practice moves fast. But the best part about it is just wearing the Senior Bowl jersey. Being able to compete against these top-tier talents. You know, getting to know the guys and how they play.
Dan: Awesome; well, thank you for your time, and good luck with everything this week.Live in person interview at the Senior Bowl on 2/1/2023
Top End Track Speed
This clip below shows exactly how effective Brown’s speed is. This was the first play of this game against Wyoming and set the tone for the rest of the day. If you give him a hole, he has the gears to get to his top speed quickly and take advantage. A vital piece of his game is on display here.
Capable Pass Catcher
Brown’s complete set of skills was on display in just one drive from this game. I suggest readers watch at least this drive in our prospect film room, where we have a few cutups of Brown. He takes advantage of a slight pick from the slot receiver and hauls in this over-the-shoulder catch.
Areas To Improve
I hate writing weaknesses for a player because I think everyone is capable of self-improvement, but unfortunately, there is not much to be done about size. At 5’9 “, Brown is on the smaller side in the running back position. You can see that in this clip below, where he is pulled down with an arm tackle.
Short Yardage Situations
Another disadvantage of size issues is breaking first contact at the line. In this clip, contact is initiated early, and Brown can’t escape it. This results in a gain of only a yard or two.
This was something that I first noticed when watching one-on-one drills at the Senior Bowl. When I got home, I turned on some tape and found a few instances. NFL teams put a great deal of emphasis on protecting the quarterback. Luckily for Brown, this is easily fixed during rookie training camp.
Projected Draft Capital & Role
We cannot let a small size reduce what we think of a running back. Brown measures in at 5’9″ and 215 pounds. This is the same height but almost 20 pounds heavier than Los Angeles Chargers’ star Austin Ekeler. Brown has all the speed you would wish to see out of a smaller back which can justify the smaller frame. He has also worked hard to improve as a pass-catcher.
The ideal situation for Brown would be a team where he can serve as the primary back in a two- or three-back rotation. Luckily for him, there are many teams that he can fit on, but the best would be those deploying an outside zone run scheme. Brown can easily use his speed to beat defenders to the edge and then take off after that. He has a chance of being drafted on day two of the NFL draft, but I would not be surprised if he landed on a team early on day three.
Dynasty Rookie Value
This offseason will be extremely interesting for the dynasty value at the running back position. We combine an extremely talented free-agent class with a very deep draft class. At least a dozen backs in this year’s draft can project as contributors to any NFL team. It will be important to watch how NFL front offices treat running back contracts this offseason.
That said, I believe Brown falls into a clear tier of potential NFL starters. Other backs in this tier include Roschon Johnson, Tyjae Spears, and Zach Charbonnet. For this tier, NFL draft capital and landing spot will heavily influence in what order we will rank them. The benefit of a big tier is that dynasty managers can trade back in their rookie drafts. My strategy with a late first this year would be to trade back into the middle of the second round. The running backs at both those positions will be of similar talent, but the cherry on top will be the additions you grab in that trade.
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I hope you enjoyed this rookie profile. Be sure to check back often, as I will cover all fantasy-relevant positions. For more content like this, follow me on Twitter @DanT_NFL. DMs are always open for questions, comments, or craft beer recommendations!