Georgia running back Nick Chubb fought his way back from injury to get to the National Championship. Where will the next step of his journey take him?
The Sports Quotient’s annual Draft Preview series returns! Over the course of the 10 weeks leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft, we will take a look at the top NFL prospects at each position. This week, we dive into the running back position. Today, we look at Nick Chubb from the University of Georgia.
Georgia native Nick Chubb hit the ground running for the University of Georgia, getting the majority of the carries for the Bulldogs as a freshman in 2014. The team lost starting running back Todd Gurley II midway through the season, and Chubb racked up over 1,500 rushing yards as the team completed a 10-3 season with a Belk Bowl victory.
Chubb entered his sophomore year as the starting running back for the Bulldogs, but a promising season for the ballcarrier was cut short when he suffered a devastating knee injury against Tennessee in mid-October.
Chubb fought his way back from injury, returning as the team’s primary ballcarrier in 2016, splitting time with Sony Michel. 2016 turned out to be a mediocre year for Chubb and the Bulldogs, as Chubb ran for just eight touchdowns and the team finished the season 8-5.
The team bounced back in a major way in 2017, as Chubb helped lead Georgia to the National Championship and finished the season with a career-high 15 rushing touchdowns and didn’t fumble the ball once all year. Chubb finished his college career with 4,769 rushing yards and 44 rushing touchdowns, both ranking second on Georgia’s all-time rushing lists behind Herschel Walker’s school records.
Nick Chubb epitomizes ball security. On 758 total carries at Georgia, Chubb fumbled the football a total of eight times (one percent of his carries). This includes zero turnovers in his senior year.
Chubb is a physical specimen. At the NFL Scouting Combine this week, he tied Penn State running back Saquon Barkley with 29 reps of 225 pounds on bench press, which led all running backs. He is a power runner who gets his pads lower than opposing linebackers to drive for yards after contact. Not many running backs in this draft class can break tackles and drag defenders like Chubb. He has a good stiff-arm and can separate himself from tacklers.
Chubb is a patient runner with solid lateral movement at the line of scrimmage. If there is one run that summarizes Chubb’s ability, it’s this 50-yard touchdown against Oklahoma in this year’s Rose Bowl:
Chubb’s patience at the line of scrimmage and his ability to break contact for extra yards make him competitive at the next level and help conceal some of the intrinsic gifts he lacks as a runner.
Chubb’s knee injury is sure to devalue his draft stock, especially considering that he has not quite taken his game back to its level before the injury. Chubb lacks the acceleration that he had before that game in Tennessee. This is illustrated by his drop in yards per rush from 8.1 in his sophomore year (pre-injury) to 5.0 his junior year (post-injury), which rose to just 6.0 in his senior season.
Chubb can be categorized as a one-dimensional back. He is not a guy who will be heavily featured on third down. In other words, he is not a receiving target. Chubb caught just four passes for 30 yards his final year at Georgia.
Chubb is not an all-around back but can be a valuable asset to any team as a role player in the situations that will accentuate his strengths. While he won’t be utilized much in the passing game, Chubb is a scorer with a nose for the end zone and will be valuable near the goal line.
He doesn’t have great, elusive side-to-side quickness to make defenders miss, nor the acceleration or breakaway speed to rack up a bunch of 20-plus yard carries, but he will pick up plenty of first downs with his ability to shed tackles and gain yards after contact. Finally, NFL coaches love a rookie running back who takes care of the football.
Given injury concerns and his lack of versatility, Chubb is not ranked very highly in his draft class, and will likely be taken behind running backs like Saquon Barkley, teammate Sony Michel, Derrius Guice, and Kerryon Johnson.
Chubb will probably fall to the third or fourth round and be picked up by a team that would most benefit from adding a power runner to the roster, like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New York Giants, New York Jets, or Oakland Raiders.
Edited by Jeremy Losak.
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