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Illini Shine at NFL Combine



Mar 4, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Illinois running back Chase Brown (RB04) speaks to the press at the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Illini Shine at NFL Combine

Illinois Football had multiple representatives at this past week’s NFL draft combine. Chase Brown, Sydney Brown, and Quan Martin all were spectacular in their workouts and put up some very respectable numbers. Devon Witherspoon was also at the event, however was reportedly nursing a minor hamstring injury. Witherspoon is already projected in the late top 10 to early teens of the first round. The three who participated definitely did their part in elevating their draft stock. In fact, after Sydney and Quan both worked out, Aaron Henry tweeted this:

The Defensive backs shine.

Witherspoon has been the talk of the past few months given the likelihood that he is a top half of the first-round pick. Mina Kimes and many more national voices have shown their positive thoughts on Witherspoon as a prospect. As everyone knows, this is such a great story for a young man who came in late to training camp after enrolling at a JUCO.

Quan Martin and Sydney Brown also have their respective stories. Both players were three-star recruits out of Florida, with very minimal to zero power five offers. Obviously. there is credit that must go to Lovie Smith and his staff for finding all three of these players. However, Bielema and his staff definitely deserve praise for developing and honing all of their talents. As reported by 247sports, Martin recorded a 44-inch vertical jump which ranked as the highest in the combine. He also had the No. 1 broad jump among safeties, and his 4.46 40-yard dash ranked third amongst safeties. Sydney Brown also impressed; amongst safeties, Brown recorded the second furthest broad jump, third highest vertical, and fourth fastest 40-yard dash (4.47 seconds).

Per reports on Twitter, Sydney has also been showing versatility as cover defensive back even though his natural position is a hard-hitting safety. This has raised talk that Sydney could be drafted on day 2 (rounds 2-3), while Quan’s showing could land him between rounds 3-4. Kerby Joseph was a third round pick last year, so it would not surprise me to see Quan drafted at a similar spot.

All hail Chase Brown

On the offensive side, Chase Brown impressed and turned heads as he always seems to do. There are plenty of talented running backs in this year’s draft, however Brown looked like an absolute truck during his workouts and continues to impress. Chase’s 4.43 second 40-yard dash ranked fifth amongst running backs. He also impressed with his combination of power and fluidity. In a recent article by NFL draft analyst, Chad Reuter, Chase Brown was mentioned as a prospect who improved his draft stock.


Chase’s production in college is too stout for teams to pass up on. The Illini star improved each year and put up an impressive senior campaign. Chase rushed for 1643 yards on 328 carries, often times carrying the ball around 40 times per game. In an article done prior to the combine by, Chase was slotted somewhere close to the fourth round. He drew comparisons to current Chiefs backup, Isiah Pacheco. Pacheco just rushed for 830 yards in his rookie season for the Super Bowl champions. That sounds pretty impressive to me.

The Illini proday will feature the rest of the Illini’s NFL draft hopefuls. Players like Tommy Devito, Calvin Avery and Alex Palczewski will all do their best to impress this coming Friday. Overall, it is safe to say that this will be the new norm for Illinois Football. Bret Bielema has done his part in turning Champaign into a respectable and reliable pro-prospect factory. Having Illini shine at the NFL draft combine will only build on that.

Alex is the Owner of, your go-to source for in depth coverage of the Illinois Fighting Illini. Alex is also the lead content creator and lead editor of all articles on Armchair Illini. He has had articles featured in top media publications like Bleacher Report, YardBarker, Verbal Commits, CBS Sports and more.