JULIUS CHESTNUT | RUNNING BACK 5’11” | 226 lbs. Age 21
The Tennessee Titans signed Julius Chestnut as a UDFA.
While everyone is tripping over themselves, rightfully so, to latch onto Justyn Ross signing with Kansas City, I believe the true Caesar of the UDFA class is one Julius Chestnut who signed with the Tennessee Titans. See what I did there? Julius…Caesar…that’s called wordplay folks, and after watching highlight reels of this Archbishop Spalding product, I was left with none.
Julius came to Sacred Heart as a surprisingly under-recruited freshman despite being an All-Metro First Teamer in Baltimore. He immediately found a home in the backfield and started producing like a seasoned veteran helping lead the Pioneers to Northeast Conference titles in 2018, 2020, and 2021. While there he was a perennial All-American every year since 2019, finishing third in the Walter Payton Award, and was the Rookie of the Year for the NEC in 2018. This guy was a diamond in the rough for the Pioneers and has helped vault them into FCS-postseason playoff contention every year.
Considering how big he is, it has not diminished his speed at all. While Sacred Heart didn’t have a Pro Day, he attended UCONN’s and left scouts checking their stopwatches when he posted two sub-4.5 40-yard runs. His bounce-off tackle-breaking ability is above average and he can work through arm tackles while falling forward when he is finally contained. He shows great vision at the first level and showcases the ability to choose a certain hole not because it’s great there but has better options at the second level. In addition, this guy loves contact; while every running back tries not to get hit, he doesn’t shy away from making contact and finishing his runs. This type of vision along with his other skillsets shows promise that he can be an every-down back in the NFL if given the opportunity. Here’s a highlight video of him in case you’re still not sold.
He doesn’t have the resume of being a prolific pass catcher out of the backfield but I attribute that to the type of offense they ran at Sacred Heart. He showed that he can snag the rock and is a hands catcher with his production in 2020 but that is something he will have to prove at the next level. The other concern is the knee sprain he experienced in 2021 which limited his production but show me a running back at this level who hasn’t sustained such an injury. One can only hope that he will have fully recovered by the time rookie mini-camp meets on May 13. Finally, what everyone will clamor about is the fact he didn’t play against elite-level competition. While that’s a valid concern, at the end of the day, one can only play against who shows up on the other side of the ball and that didn’t affect the likes of Kurt Warner, James Robinson, and Jerry Rice.
Julius has the deck stacked against him obviously as a UDFA but that hasn’t stopped him before. You don’t have a career-rushing average of over 100 yards without there being some talent in your bones, which I believe he has a lot of. What intrigues me the most about him is how similar he appears to the current running back for the Titans, some dude named Derrick Henry. He runs with power, has high-level vision, and is used to not being a feature of the passing game; which is exactly what King Henry is.
The Titans recognized the need for a younger, more viable, similar style running back this off-season when they were without his services for half of the year. This motivated them to go out and draft Hassan Haskins in the fifth round and add Julius as a UDFA. While both Haskins and Chestnut were previously linebackers, I feel that Julius will have that chip on his shoulder which will elevate him on the depth chart.
You should not have to draft him unless your league goes more than four rounds, but if he shows well in mini-camp, one could see his ADP rise similar to that of Rhamondre Stevenson after his work in the off-season. Personally, while it may appear as a waste of a pick at the time, I am drafting him at the end of every dynasty draft. While he will more than likely be on my taxi squad this year, with King Henry getting longer in the tooth and the trades that Tennessee has made, shows me that they want to continue being a ground and pound offense, which is what Julius is made for.
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