Chuba Hubbard - RB- Oklahoma State
Step into the rookie profile of Chuba Hubbard was considered a top-end talent at the running back position at the end of the 2019 season. He possessed elite top-end speed and provided a home run threat whenever he got into the open field. Then returning for his senior season, he did not necessarily help his case becoming more of a hot topic for debate instead of a unanimous top-tier talent.
Team: Carolina Panthers
Height: 6′ 0″
Weight: 210 lbs
40-yard dash: 4.48
3-cone drill: 7.24
20-yard shuttle: 4.26
Vertical Jump: 36″
Broad Jump: 120″
Bench Press: 20
Hubbard redshirted his freshman year not touching the field in 2017. That season he carved out a significant role for the Oklahoma State Cowboys. In 2018 he split carries pretty evenly with current NFL running back Justice Hill and was able to accrue 950+ total yards from scrimmage and 9 total touchdowns. He was immediately involved in the passing game garnering 22 receptions on 23 targets. Going into his redshirt sophomore year, Hill had departed to the NFL and it was time for Hubbard to become the workhorse for that backfield. Hubbard absolutely delivered with over 2000 rushing yards on 328 carries. Additionally, he stayed involved in the passing game with 23 receptions and almost 200 receiving yards. His 2019 season didn’t go unnoticed as he was awarded Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year, Unanimous All-American, First Team All-Big 12, Doak Walker Award finalists, and Walter Payton Award finalist.
Hubbard’s 2019 season put him on the map for the NFL draft, but despite the success, he decided to return for his redshirt junior campaign. Viewers and scouts all had big expectations for the Oklahoma State running back, but what he delivered in 2020 was not what anyone had envisioned. LD Brown and newcomer Dezmon Jackson split carries with Hubbard in a three-way running back by committee approach. While Hubbard was still able to accumulate more carries in 2020 than his redshirt freshman year he produced over 100 yards less and saw a significant decrease in targets (over half).
At his pro-day Hubbard scored very average numbers across the board. For the home run threat that we all know Hubbard as we saw his 40 time come in at 4.51. His time was decent, but not what many expected to see. The rest of his pro-day results translated into an average Speed Score and Burst Score, although his Agility Score was only 28th percentile (per playerprofiler).
Hubbard was very productive and efficient in both the rushing and receiving game through his first two years. He showed he could be a workhorse during college and flourish with the increase in volume shown in his sophomore season. Hubbard demonstrated good vision and was a decisive runner when he found the hole in the line of scrimmage. His vision allowed him to get into the second level of the defense and show off his burst and his home run speed that was seen on film.
Agility is one of Hubbard’s strong suits, having the ability to jump-cut or make a slight change of direction to manipulate defenders. In the open field, he can make defenders miss as well as read blocks set up in front of him well. Additionally, he showed he can be elusive and navigate through traffic well within the box. He can get skinny through the line of scrimmage to make it through an open seam in the offensive line.
Obviously, Hubbard had a disappointing follow-up to his spectacular sophomore campaign. He dropped significantly in not just workload compared to the rest of the backfield, but also the efficiency with the reduced carries. With a slighter frame measuring in at 6’10” and 210 lbs, it makes one wonder if his huge workload from his sophomore season took a toll on his body as he fought injuries much of the 2020 season.
Hubbard also had turnover issues in his 2.5 years with Oklahoma State, fumbling the ball 7 times. That has to be cleaned up if he wants to earn playing time at the next level. Another trait that he will have to improve upon to earn playing time is his pass protection. He displayed average pass protection technique and very rarely recognized the blitz/took a poor angle. Additionally, he was not a player that would fight for extra yards after contact, rarely falling forward or keeping his legs moving.
Expected Draft Capital:
Early Day 3, rounds 5-6.
Best Draft Fits:
Chuba Hubbard’s skillset and frame point to him being drafted as a role player/change of pace back. His lack of pass protection makes it hard for him to immediately have an impact on third downs. With his speed, he could still prove valuable with a limited workload/shared backfield if he can break off some big runs and show his efficiency from 2019. He certainly has the potential to be a legit fantasy contributor if we can see him return to his 2019 form. But the production and film he put out for 2020 is concerning. There are a lot of teams that could use a rotational back with the upside that Hubbard provides. The San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals, Miami Dolphins, Denver Broncos, and New England Patriots are some examples of teams that could take a running back in the later rounds to help with depth and provide upside.
Carolina Panthers: Rounds 4, Pick 21
With the 21st pick in the fourth round the Carolina Panthers selected Chuba Hubbard. With the departure of Mike Davis in Free Agency, the Panthers were left without a true backup to Christian McCaffrey were he to miss any more time. They currently have Trenton Cannon and Reggie Bonnafon who have played in stints as backups throughout their career. Hubbard provides a true backup that the Panthers can rely on and potentially take some of the load off of McCaffrey during the regular season.
While Hubbard has no shot to dethrone Christian McCaffrey as the running back one for the Panthers, he could help his NFL team quite a bit. If McCaffrey were to go down, Hubbard could be a more than serviceable backup and fits the scheme quite well. Selecting him in the fourth round, it does call to question whether the Panthers want to spell McCaffrey a bit more throughout the regular season. McCaffrey missed his first large stint of games in the 2020 season and potentially the organization is realizing that they overworked the running back. Hubbard could provide a solid change of pace role for his offense and spell McCaffrey so he is not so overworked and fresh for their hopeful playoff berth.
Selecting Hubbard in the fourth round does signify that the Panthers believe he can be a solid contributor for his team. It appears though that he will be a much better real life NFL asset than a fantasy asset at this point. Without another injury to McCaffrey, it will be hard to rely on Hubbard for any consistent production. He might make the most of his carries here and there, but without the guaranteed volume, you can’t trust Hubbard week in and week out. In redraft formats, he will most likely go undrafted and be a potential waiver wire guy everyone scrambles for at some point in the season if McCaffrey misses time. Or the McCaffrey owner can scoop him up late in drafts as a potential handcuff. In Dynasty formats, he will be a mid to late third round flier in super flex rookie drafts. At that point he is a handcuff to McCaffrey or you are banking on the potential upside that he proves himself and finds himself in a better situation at some point down the road.
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Image Credit: Alonzo Adams – USA TODAY Sports