The Cincinnati Bengals went all defense on the first two days of the NFL Draft and started Saturday off attacking the offensive side of the ball, selecting Purdue wideout Charlie Jones in the fourth round.
With the 28th pick in the fifth round, the long-awaited running back pick was finally made when Zac Taylor put in the call to Illinois Fighting Illini running back Chase Brown.
What he brings to the Bengals
Big Play Ability: Brown took over as the lead back for Illinois in 2022 and never looked back. Brown took routine plays and turned them in to home runs. A 2022 Doak Walker Award finalist, Brown has track-like speed and can take a run designed to get through the A gap for four yards and turn it in to a house call. He won’t necessarily push a pile, but if he breaks through to the second level of the defense, his speed can allow him to outrun just about anyone.
Pass Catching: The Bengals value running backs who can contribute in the passing game, and Brown did just that last season in Champagne. In a year where he grew as a back, catching out of the backfield was not left out. Brown was able to sell pass protection well before sneaking out to catch a screen pass. After the catch, his patience and allowing the block to set up are impressive on tape.
Why the Bengals picked Brown
Competition: As of now, it appears the Bengals plan to stick with Joe Mixon as the lead running back. With the departure of Samaje Perine and the limited snaps we’ve seen from Trayveon Williams, the second running back role could be up for grabs. Chris Evans can’t seem to stay on the field consistently, for whatever reason. Brown brings talent, speed, and competition into a room that will likely have one of the more interesting training camp battles.
Pass Protection: Let’s face it, this is a big part of what a Bengals running back needs to do. Brown showed no signs of being afraid to pass block. With the shotgun, pass-heavy offense, a good pass protector is a must. Brown doesn’t exactly pop off the tape in pass protection but offers a solid presence and a willingness to do so. Sometimes that is half the battle.
This was yet another very solid pick for a Bengals franchise that is having one of the best 2023 draft showings of any NFL team.