Sacred Heart is not nationally recognized for its production of NFL athletes. That said, Julius Chestnut has plus athleticism and the size to be an every-down back in the league. The back boasts above-average linear burst and sudden change of direction ability. He has the lateral quickness to make defenders miss with sharp cuts in traffic. Further, Chestnut employs impressive leg drive through contact. He gets low into the tackle point and shows off tackle-breaking power, bouncing off defenders and working through arm tackles. The Pioneers’ star carries opponents at times and runs through tacklers head-on. He typically falls forward through contact. What’s more, Chestnut anticipates incoming defenders and cuts with sound timing. He precedes his changes of direction with salesmanship and head fakes to force defenders into false steps and awkward body positioning. He is shifty and sudden. Moreover, Chestnut exhibits solid vision at the first level; he can also read second-level defenders before choosing his rushing lane. He is generally patient while finding a hole. In space, Chestnut uses his blockers well. He is a willing north-south runner but knows how to bounce plays outside in pursuit of chunk yardage. As a pass-catcher, the Sacred Heart standout flashes exaggerated salesmanship in his route running. His movement skills will give some NFL linebackers problems. He is a hands catcher on limited exposure.
Though he is one of the best players in program history, Sacred Heart’s star running back is not a perfect prospect. Of course, Chestnut is unproven against high-level competition. Further, a sprained knee seriously limited him in 2021. Moreover, Chestnut is somewhat stiff-hipped. He does not cover too much ground with jump cuts and can be held up by penetrating defenders. Further, he may not have the speed to consistently beat defenders to the corner in the NFL. What’s more, his power will not be as impactful in the league. Chestnut is stopped behind the line of scrimmage too easily by pure grip strength. Similarly, he is frequently brought down or substantially slowed by arm tackles early in his runs. He is tripped up regularly. Additionally, Chestnut’s instincts and vision are lacking in short-yardage situations. The athletic runner also likes cutting back too much. He attempts to get flashy and find huge lanes when there is an easy hole to hit in front of him. Looking for the bigger play will not always work in the NFL. He must learn to take what is there. Finally, Chestnut sorely lacks experience as a receiver and a blocker. His route running is, for the most part, average; he may struggle to separate in the NFL. As a blocker, he gives minimal effort and plays with inaccurate hands and a high pad level.
Every year, FCS athletes make an impact early in their NFL careers. Julius Chestnut is a scheme-versatile back who looks like he can carve a role out for himself in the league. He boasts above-average movement skills and power. That said, it is hard to know if he will adapt to the NFL game. What’s more, his poor blocking and inexperience as a receiver may restrict him to an early-down role early. He is a developmental back with rotational contributor upside.