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Crabbs | Chubb needs return of explosion despite productive 2016

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Scouting Notes

Crabbs | Chubb needs return of explosion despite productive 2016

After the horrific left knee injury that Georgia RB Nick Chubb suffered against the Tennessee Volunteers in October of 2015, there was some speculation whether Chubb would ever suit up again or not. Ten months later, Chubb lined up in the backfield against the North Carolina Tar Heels and carried the football over 30 times, rushing for 222 yards and two scores in a 33-24 victory.

The sudden turnaround for Chubb, who did not tear his ACL but did tear his PCL and three other ligaments, was a stunning development. But when watching Chubb’s 2016 film, it’s apparent he’s still searching for the extra juice and explosion that made him such a devastating runner over the course of his first two and a half seasons with the Bulldogs program.

Chubb finished the year with 224 carries (a career high) for 1,130 rushing yards and 8 touchdowns, impressive output for a player who split time with fellow draft prospect, RB Sony Michel. When Chubb was able to showcase his abilities and look most like himself, he was working down hill and getting his pads square to the line of scrimmage early in his runs.

Chubb’s stature at 5’10, 228 lbs is a significant task to bring down in the alley way. Defenders often cut low or take poor angles in an effort to avoid taking on such a compact runner head on. The end result? Often times Chubb is able to sustain his balance with precise steps and continue his up field momentum.

The full pacing of Chubb’s step frequency or leg drive wasn’t back to 100% last season but that’s only to be expected after such a significant injury. The pace of his steps wasn’t the only thing missing, either. Chubb at times showed some hesitancy in driving hard off of his recovering leg.

You can see the deliberate steps as Chubb both presses up into the line of scrimmage and as he comes face up with a second level defender. More explosive, hard cuts (the kind Chubb showed to have in his arsenal as he was exploding into Heisman contention during 2015) could have gotten him through the line quicker and out of the tackle radius of the defender.

These are the kinds of plays that are going to be the barometer for Chubb this season. His lateral agility and secondary explosion when accelerating into a crease are still quality traits but what made Chubb so special was how nimble he could run while still being a compact, powerful runner. Some, myself included, felt Chubb could have been the best of both worlds between a Dalvin Cook style runner and a Leonard Fournette style runner this past draft cycle.

Perhaps the most important note in watching five games of Chubb in 2016 is that the flashes are present. The consistency is not. But there’s glimpses of confident runs, yards after contact and the ability to open up his strides to eat up turn and generate chunk gains.

Again, as Chubb gets north and south, his imposing build generates a poor challenge and then it’s off to the races. This was one of the more promising runs I saw from Chubb last season; NFL franchises will be hoping to see more of this in 2017. If they do, along with some more spring in his lateral cuts, Chubb can reassert himself as a top tier running back prospect for this year’s upcoming NFL Draft.

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Kyle Crabbs

Kyle Crabbs is the founder/Director of Scouting of NDT Scouting Services, a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and the lead NFL Draft analyst for the FanRag Sports Network.

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