We are still very early into the draft evaluation process for 2018 and it’s too soon to definitively say anyone is the best prospect at their position. However, as we enter November, one man has risen to the top of this defensive end class. That man is North Carolina State star Bradley Chubb.
The Total Package
No matter what you’re looking for in a DE, Chubb is pretty impressive. He’s got the desired size at 6’4, 275 lbs. He’s fast off the snap and combines his initial quickness with good bend around the edge and a variety of effective pass rush moves. He’s also a strong and disciplined run defender. In terms of prospects, he’s everything you’d want in an NFL defensive end.
Is Bradley Chubb a Top 10 Talent?
However, there’s a difference between a good prospect and a top ten prospect. And despite being the best at his position (which is one of the most valuable positions in the NFL), I’m not sold that Chubb is a top ten type of talent.
Make no mistake, Chubb is a very talented football player and will be a first round pick. In fact he’s one of my favorite players in college football. But the big thing that holds me back with him is that I question if he has an elite ceiling. This is especially true in terms of his pass rushing, where DEs really establish themselves as game changers.
The two things I look for first when evaluating pass rushers are their explosiveness off the line of scrimmage and their ability to turn the corner on the edge. In these areas Chubb is good or even very good (particularly with his burst off the line of scrimmage), but I can’t go as far as to call them great. Without being great in these two areas it’s very hard to be a top end pass rusher in the NFL. And without the potential of being a great pass rusher it’s hard to justify drafting a defensive end in the top ten.
Keep in mind, Chubb does project to be a good next level pass rusher. It’s a combination of these two strong traits, good hand usage as a pass rusher, and a motor that runs very high that he finds success. Needless to say, he’s found a lot of success in college and these are all traits that will translate to the next level. However, I don’t see a lot of untapped potential in Chubb and it’s often potential more than production that results in being selected in the top ten of the draft.
Athleticism vs Production
For example, Myles Garrett was considered to be one of the elite defensive end prospects to declare in recent memory despite not putting up great numbers against major competition. On the other hand, Derek Barnett was one of the most productive players in college football history and was considered to be a mid to late first round pick at the same position last year. Statistics and past success may have indicated that Barnett was the better player, but it was Garett’s elite athleticism and incredible upside that made him the number one overall pick. Those are the two traits that Chubb lacks.
Chubb is not a freak athlete who’s oozing with potential. He’s not a guy who can just blow past opposing offensive tackles or overwhelm a blocker with raw power. Not at the NFL level anyway. He’s a guy who has to combine good athletic traits with good technique and a high level of effort. All those things together make a very good player, but they can only take you so far without elite tools to work with. The kind of tools that Chubb just doesn’t have.
I don’t want it to feel like I’m down on Bradley Chubb because I’m not. I love him as a football player and I’d take him on my team any time. There’s nothing wrong with being a very good talent who needs great technique and effort to be successful. In fact, Chubb will soon be a millionaire based of those traits and should have a very long career. But is this the kind of prospect with elite upside who I’d expect to be a top ten pick? At this point I’d have to say no.