One of the biggest offseason storylines for the 2023 Cincinnati Bengals has been the status of the running back position.
With incumbent starter Joe Mixon having a so-so 2022 campaign and now facing legal troubles, Cincinnati was expected to either sign a potential starter in free agency or spend a high draft pick on one.
Neither of those happened, and Mixon is now locked into his spot on the roster following a contract restructure.
However, the Bengals still got a potential starting-caliber running back in this year’s draft via Chase Brown, who was selected with the 163rd-overall pick in Round 5 of the 2023 NFL Draft.
Originally a class of 2018 signee with Western Michigan, Brown eventually made his way to Illinois, where he became one of the biggest workhorse backs in the sport this past season with 1,643 yards and 10 touchdowns on 328 carries (5.0 avg).
That was the second-most carries any player had in the FBS ranks, trailing only Brad Roberts (348) of Air Force. Brown also hauled in 27 passes for 240 yards (8.89 avg) and three more scores.
Going into the draft, Brown was a hard player to project, as some experts believed he could sneak into the back end of Day 2, but the prevailing thought was he’d go somewhere in Day 3.
- The Pro Football Focus big board ranked Brown 106th overall.
- ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. ranked Brown 140th overall.
- The Athletic draft guru Dane Brugler didn’t have Brown in the top 200 prospects but gave him a Round 4 projection.
- ESPN’s Todd McShay ranked Brown 156th overall.
- CBS Sports’ rankings had Brown coming in at 253rd overall.
- Finally, the 2023 NFL Draft Consensus Big Board had Brown ranked 120th overall.
Looking ahead, as long as Mixon is on the roster, he figures to be the Bengals’ top back, while Brown will likely fill the role vacated by Samaje Perine leaving for Denver.