The Roster Bubble
With Dalvin Cook off to greener pastures (maybe), there is a wide-open running back room for the taking. Early reports out of camp and analysts indicate Mattison will be the lead back going into the season but there is a healthy competition underway to make the roster in regard to the running back room. With only 53 spots to fill on the opening day squad and preseason football just on the horizon, who will stand out enough to maybe earn not just a roster spot, but playing time during the season? With DeWayne McBride, Kene Nwangwu, Ty Chandler, and newly signed Abram Smith also vying for spots, who is truly on the roster bubble? Let’s dive in and take a look at one potential name to know.
Ty Chandler – Player Profile
Ty Chandler is a sophomore running back out of North Carolina who was drafted in the 5th Round of the 2022 NFL Draft and spent all of his rookie season on the Vikings roster. Though Chandler landed on IR for a short stint last season, last year was about learning. With Dalvin and Mattison both healthy, there weren’t a ton of opportunities for the Tar Heel prospect to showcase his ability last year. In college however, Chandler played all five years and racked up 3,138 rushing yards, 681 receiving yards and 31 total touchdowns. Coming out of high school as a Top 100 recruit and a 4-star prospect, many teams heavily sought Chandler’s services but he ultimately landed with the Tennessee Volunteers. In four years, he served mostly as a rotational role. He led Tennessee in rushing yards his sophomore and junior years, before now Giants RB Eric Gray took over the workhorse role his senior year, resulting in a transfer to the North Carolina program in 2021. In his final collegiate season in the Carolina Blue and White, he totaled 1,378 all-purpose yards, 14 touchdowns, and 6.6 yards per carry.
With a player profile out of the way, what is Tykevious Chandler like on the gridiron? Chandler is an above average athlete who is a little old for a second-year player, 25, but possesses a solid overall skill set. As a runner, Chandler showed good, not great, vision and north-to-south speed during his five-year NCAA career. As a player, he has great patience and discernment to see the holes as they develop and when he hits them, he makes plays. However, he could benefit from speeding up that decision making process at the NFL level. With 4.38 speed, Chandler has solid ability to break a run and when he’s in the open field, has the ideal ability to make tacklers miss but not always. Chandler isn’t a bruiser and showed in college he doesn’t run over defenders and occasionally would get taken down by bigger threats tracking him down. Additionally, his ability in pass defense isn’t bad but could be cleaned up. Looking ahead, the former Tar Heel will most likely be a rotational, change of pace back in the league.
Can Ty Chandler survive the roster bubble? Absolutely! Though he will not be a workhorse, he will find value due to two main innate abilities: Ball Security and Pass Catching. Chandler as a whole does a great job holding onto the ball when he has it, only fumbling five times in his entire college career. To pair with this, Chandler can catch the ball. Though he doesn’t have a massive repertoire from college and suffered from the occasional drop, he showed he COULD do it. As Minnesota is looking to find a new lead back, Chandler has a chance to carve his name into contention. Will he be an every down player? No, but he doesn’t need to be to be productive. As compared to some backs coming out of college, Chandler doesn’t have the wear and tear others do. Add to this the fact Ty Chandler has experience as a return-man and there is a great opportunity for him in Minnesota to be not just on the roster, but a key contributor in a variety of ways. Chandler comps really well to Devonta Freeman, who was also a Day 3 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft but has ability as a runner but more so as a pass catcher.
Projection: 53 man roster, rotational running back role, and depth kickoff/punt returner
- Projected Stat Line: 435 rushing yards, 480 receiving yards, 10 total touchdowns
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