NFL Draft analysis: defensive ends — Sam Hubbard

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DENTON, Texas (KNTU) Continuing my analysis of NFL 2018 Draft candidates, here is:

Sam Hubbard, Edge, The Ohio State University — 6’4″ / 265 lbs — (RS) Junior #6

  • Who is He?

In 40 career games at Ohio State, Hubbard made 22 starts and recorded 116 tackles — 29.5 for loss and 17 sacks. He also had two fumble recoveries, three forced fumbles, and an interception. He set career highs in 2017 with 13.5 tackles-for-loss (TFL) and seven sacks.

Although Hubbard finished his career without the remarkable numbers put up by the other edges, they’re still impressive. During his time with the Buckeyes, Hubbard played alongside Adolphus Washington, Joey and Nick Bosa, Tyquan Lewis, and Jalyn Holmes, who are all NFL, and future NFL, players.

Don’t let the numbers mislead you, Hubbard is one of the most well-developed pass rushers in this class. Along with his skills coming off the edge, he offers the versatility to slide inside and play defensive tackle at the 4i and 3-techniques.

  • Positives

Hubbard has a massive frame, speed and a varied, refined arsenal of moves he uses to get into the backfield. He uses clubs, stabs, rips, dips, spin moves, or a combination of them. He doesn’t bring the same kind of eye-popping flexibility of Harold Landry, but he can still corner around tackles with a pure speed rush if he needs to. He also has the size and strength to attack linemen with a bull rush.

Hubbard keeps his hands active, swiping away the tackles arms in the pass rush, his toes always pointed toward the quarterback. He does a great job of keeping his shoulders pointed away from the tackle and not allowing his blocker to get hands on his chest. Hubbard also showed he’s comfortable running stunts, an area in which Landry struggles.

Hubbard also reads the quarterback as he’s rushing and adjusts accordingly. The ability to redirect in the middle of his rush, adjusting his angle to the quarterback, is something that sets him apart from guys like Arden Key, Marcus Davenport, and Landry. Most edges will take one route to the ball, determining their path before the snap.

  • Negatives

Hubbard shows some weakness in defending against the running game, but it has nothing to do with his size. Hubbard shows good strength at the point of attack. He also shows great discipline when unblocked, dropping his body square to read the play and attack.

Another glaring issue is his inability to make tackles in space. Hubbard was asked to drop into coverage far too often. On these plays, he usually dropped into zones to compensate for pressure coming off the opposite side of the line. Those types of blitzes were obviously predicated on the idea that pressure would get home and the defensive end wouldn’t be as vulnerable downfield. But Hubbard probably shouldn’t be dropping into coverage in any capacity at the next level.

  • Summary

Hubbard is a top 15 talent in the draft. He has a plethora of well-developed moves coming off the edge as a pass rusher as well as the size and strength to hold up in the run game. He’s a league ready prospect who can immediately offer pressure in the passing game. If he can work out the few rough aspects of his game, he’ll be an ideal 4-3 defensive end.

  • Relevance to the Cowboys

The Cowboys shouldn’t be worried about giving him any attention since he’ll be off the board by the 19th pick.

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