Sam Hubbard was an integral part of the Buckeyes’ defensive end rotation these past two seasons. Now, he has taken the next step as the Cincinnati Bengals have taken him in the 3rd round with the #77 overall pick.
Hubbard has the size and length teams look for in a base end (6’5” 270 lbs with 33 1/8’” arms). As a former lacrosse star and safety at Archbishop Moeller High School, one may think that he lacks technique and precision for an edge player. However, on film, Hubbard is the opposite. He is not the most explosive nor the most flexible pass rusher, but his lightning quick hands and his ability to change direction make him a desirable prospect.
To the surprise of many, including myself, Hubbard ran the fastest three-cone at the combine out of all the edge players at 6.84 seconds. This is an elite time for a base end, and after revisiting his tape it does show. What is surprising is that Hubbard does not possess elite bend as that time implies. This limits his sack potential in the NFL. However, Hubbard’s precise, strong and explosive hand usage is what will make him a productive pass rusher (6-9 sacks a year). Also, he will automatically be a solid run defender due to his strength at the point of attack and (again) his great hand usage. From a mental standpoint, Hubbard has a very high football IQ and it is quite absurd for someone who has only played defensive line for about 3-4 seasons to possess the technique he does (credit to Coach Larry Johnson). NFL teams love his understanding assignments and high motor.
Hubbard may have a limited ceiling as a pass rusher due to his lack of pure explosiveness and hip flexibility. However, his ability to change direction, hand usage, and refined technique projects him as a starter at the next level. I would like to see him develop more counter moves at the next level as this will maximize his pass-rushing potential. Teams looking for a base end or a stand up outside linebacker in most schemes will be intrigued by Hubbard.
He is reunited with teammate Billy Price in Cincinnati.
Image via: Eleven Warriors