Monday in Las Vegas brought about day three of Shrine Bowl practices and day one of practicing in Allegiant Stadium, home of the Raiders. It brought more opportunities for guys who had quiet starts to heat up, like Maryland tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo. But it also brought about more chances for guys who have already shined to keep raising their draft stock. Such was the case for North Carolina running back Ty Chandler.
Chandler was someone we expected to see a good outing from coming into this week. In his four years at Tennessee and one year at North Carolina, he had a lot of success because of his strong footwork and field vision. Chandler was always good about finding holes and identifying cut-back lanes. He made defenders miss by forcing them to overcommit before making quick cuts into open running lanes.
What made the North Carolina product even more dangerous was his burst once he made it to the second level. Chandler would consistently evade defenders, explode out into the open field, and turn on the jets for big gains in his time in college. That didn’t change once he got to Las Vegas.
Chandler has been one of the biggest standouts at Shrine Week practices since day one. He’s been a leader among the running backs, showing that explosiveness off the snap and beyond that made him such a productive weapon in his college career.
That’s really the key word for Chandler and his performances during Shrine Week so far: explosive. He has looked like he’s playing at a faster speed than the rest of the West’s running backs through three practices. As soon as the ball is in his hands, whether that’s at the mesh point or after catching a pass, Chandler can kick into another gear. One thing we’ve seen a lot of in Shrine Bowl practices this week is the Nashville native shooting through his gaps with explosive acceleration right after taking the handoff.
The good speed he’s demonstrated plenty of in practice has only been part of his impressive performance in Las Vegas. Chandler has also shown off what his great field vision can really allow him to do when paired with that speed. When each play begins, he’s keeping his eyes up and reading defenders’ movements to anticipate their next move and preparing his counter.
On running plays, that means preparing little shoulder fakes like he did on one play in Monday’s practice.
As soon as he fools the two defenders into expecting a cut upfield, he bursts outside, using his raw speed to beat them around the edge for the score.
On passing plays, Chandler is creating separation using his quick cuts and changes in speed.
Once he makes that switch and kicks into his second gear, it’s almost unfair and nearly impossible to defend. Of course, that speed and vision also combine to make him a nightmare to stop once he catches a pass. His yards after catch potential is off the charts because of what he can do in space.
The North Carolina product has strung together a really nice three days of practice here in Las Vegas. Right now, Chandler easily looks like the best running back at the Shrine Bowl. There’s just no one else at the position playing at the speed that he can.
Like the other standouts we’ve seen here so far, Chandler will look to continue that strong play through the last day of practice on Tuesday and game day on Thursday. If—and when—he does, he’ll keep moving up draft boards around the country.