BROCK AND SALK

UCLA’s Chip Kelly: What Seahawks are getting in RB Charbonnet

May 2, 2023, 9:11 AM | Updated: 1:55 pm

Seahawks Zach Charbonnet...

Zach Charbonnet of the UCLA Bruins runs the ball on Oct. 8, 2022. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

(Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

For the second year in a row, the Seattle Seahawks selected a running back in the second round. This year, that back is Zach Charbonnet of UCLA.

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Charbonnet had a stellar career for the Bruins, rushing for roughly 2,500 yards and 27 touchdowns in two seasons in Los Angeles after starting his college career at Michigan. Charbonnet also impressed as a receiver, grabbing 61 catches for 518 yards the last two seasons.

Charbonnet was a first-team All-American in 2022, and was second-team All-Pac-12 in 2021.

So who better to give Seahawks fans insight into their new running back than UCLA head coach Chip Kelly? Kelly joined Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk on Monday to explain what the Hawks are getting in Charbonnet.

“I think Zach, just a tremendous person first and foremost. And I know going into the draft, everybody comes in and … they’re going to poke and prod and try to find something wrong with any prospect. And Zach’s one of the kids that I’ve always said … the only red flag with Zach Charbonnet is there are no red flags,” Kelly said. “I mean, he does everything every day the way it should be done.”

Kelly, a longtime head coach, said Charbonnet is one of the best practice players he’s been around. That included on special teams, where he shined in practices despite not playing a snap of special teams during games.

“He may have been our best special teams practice player, and he never took a snap on special teams (in a game). But every day, his approach to special teams practice was amazing. And it’s just the type of kid he is,” Kelly said. “He knew that maybe he’s gonna have to play (special) teams in the NFL, so he practiced his tail off. And we were smart enough not to use him on special teams because he was such a good running back. But that’s the type of kid you’re getting. There’s nothing he won’t do to help his team win a football game.”

So what about Charbonnet as a runner? What stands out?

“I really love his vision. And it’s a combination – I think it’s vision and his patience,” Kelly said. “Some guys, they’re hitting (the hole) too quickly and they’re not letting it develop. I think he has a really good understanding because he’s a really smart kid. (He understands) blocking schemes and where plays are supposed to hit and the timing of plays. He really lets plays develop in front of him and then when it does open, he’ll take off and hit it … He’s always going forward. He’s always going to gain positive yards … I think he’s got a really good understanding of blocking schemes, and that’s what makes him such a lethal back.”

Kelly said Charbonnet’s play reminds him of a former Pro Bowl Chicago Bears running back.

“He reminds me a little bit of Matt Forte that used to play for the Bears because I think he’s so versatile, because he does such a great job in (pass) protection, he does such a great job catching the ball out of the backfield,” Kelly said. “He’s truly a three-down back. He can play every down.”

Listen to the full interview with Kelly at this link or in the player below.

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