2018 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Nick Chubb
By Charlie Campbell
Summary: Nobody was expecting a backup freshman running back to take the SEC by storm in 2014, especially when the starting running back was superstar Todd Gurley, but that is exactly what Chubb did. Gurley missed time with a suspension before tearing an ACL, which ended his season early. Chubb was phenomenal as the replacement for Gurley, averaging 7.1 yards per carry for 1,547 yards with 14 touchdowns. He also caught 18 receptions for 213 yards and two scores.
With Gurley in the NFL in 2015, Chubb took over as the feature back for the Bulldogs and picked up where he left off as a freshman. The sophomore averaged 8.1 yards per carry for 747 yards and seven touchdowns through only five games. He had four receptions for 32 yards and a score as well. In his final complete game of the year, he ran for 146 yards on 20 carries with a touchdown against eventual National Champion Alabama. Chubb tore his ACL against Tennessee in Georgia's next contest and missed the final seven contests of the season.
As a junior, Chubb had an impressive start to 2016 when he made it back for the season opener and ripped off 222 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries against North Carolina. Unfortunately for Chubb, that was his best game of the season, and he didn't look like the same player over the course of the year. In 2016, Chubb averaged 5.0 yards per carry for 1,130 yards with eight touchdowns. He had five receptions for 86 yards and a touchdown as well.
In 2017, Chubb averaged 6.0 yards per carry for 1,345 yards with 15 touchdowns. The senior had two receptions for 20 yards as well. His production was suppressed by Georgia splitting the carries amongst a huge stable of backs. In speaking with team sources, they felt that Chubb looked better than in 2016 and was closer to his old form. He was definitely faster, more physical, tougher to tackle, and more decisive than he was in 2016.
Chubb was impressive at the NFL Scouting Combine, putting up a 40 time of 4.52 seconds. He also showed strength, tying Saquon Barkley for the lead in the bench press with 29 reps. Chubb also put up impressive numbers in the broad and vertical jumps.
If Chubb continues to get back the rare speed and explosiveness he had before the injury, he could end up being a first-round talent who is picked up at a bargain. At it stands right now, Chubb looks like a future starter in the NFL with the ability to be a steady motor for a rushing attack. He runs with excellent body lean and knee bend, plus stays behind his pads. That style of avoiding running upright makes Chubb very difficult to tackle, and he powers through many tackling attempts. Chubb is very skilled at breaking tackles with his power and also keeps his feet moving to churn out more yards after contact is initiated. Chubb has a burst to hit the hole with a second gear to get to the second level.
Prior to his 2015 knee injury, Chubb was very fast and explosive. That could also be seen in him being a track star with an incredible vertical leap. Chubb was definitely faster in 2017 than he was in 2016, so perhaps he will get all the way back to his pre-injury form. Even if he doesn't get all the way back, what Chubb is right now could be a good NFL running back to lead a tough rushing attack.
Chubb would fit the pro game well in a zone-read system that lets him be a one-cut downhill runner. He does have the feet and elusiveness to run in a power-man scheme as well, and most NFL teams run both schemes. Chubb has three-down ability as a blocker and receiver, but he didn't get to show it much because Georgia used Sony Michel for that role with Chubb taking more carries. Still, Chubb made 18 catches as a freshman while splitting time with Todd Gurley. Chubb will need some development as a blocker and receiver, but he has the ability to execute in the passing game.
In speaking with a general manager at the end of the regular season, they graded Chubb as a third-round pick, although they thought that he probably would go in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft, assuming the medical evaluation came back okay. Other teams had Chubb on Day 2 as well, with some in the third round and some in the second round. Many around the league think it is likely Chubb will end up being a second-round pick.
Player Comparison: Frank Gore. In terms of build and running style, there are a lot of similarities between Gore and Chubb. Chubb is similar in size to Gore (5-9, 212), and both are very physical runners. They have excellent lean with the ability to run behind their lines and are very tough to get on the ground. Gore is a downhill, hard-nosed runner who has gotten a lot of yards after contact in his NFL career. Chubb could be similar to the long-time veteran.
Another similarity between these two is they had knee injuries in college that could have prevented them from being top-20 picks even though they possessed that level of skill set. Gore has had a great NFL career, but if he never had the injuries, he could have been even better. Chubb is in the same boat in that he has come back well from his knee injury but may never fully get back the speed and explosion that he had before getting hurt.
NFL Matches: Cleveland, New York Giants, New York Jets, Oakland, Detroit, San Francisco and Indianapolis
There are a lot of teams that could consider taking Chubb in the early rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft. The Browns may move on from Isaiah Crowell and could use a feature back in their offense. If they don't get Saquon Barkley, Chubb could make sense for one of their second-round picks.
In the Big Apple, the Giants could use a feature back for their offense, and Chubb would give them a physical rushing attack that they haven't had in years. The Jets also have to replace the retired Matt Forte, and Chubb could be the engine of their ground attack.
Oakland badly needs more consistency from its rushing offense. Predictably, Marshawn Lynch was a disappointment coming out of retirement. The Raiders need a true feature back to go with Derek Carr. Similarly, the Colts could use a running back of the future to pair with Andrew Luck and bring a more steady rushing attack to their offense.
For years now, the Lions have had one-dimensional offense with one of the worst rushing attacks in the league. Detroit needs a true No.1 back to bring some balance to the offense. Chubb would be a great fit for the Lions in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
San Francisco could use a lead back for its offense. Chubb might be a fit for Kyle Shanahan if the 49ers head coach likes what he sees out of Chubb as a receiver in pre-draft workouts.
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