The 2018 NFL Draft Prospect series breaks down draft-eligible players, highlighting their college production as well as their NFL potential. Daily fantasy players should know about NFL rookies before they’ve played a down of professional football because they are among the most misvalued assets in all of DFS. People who know NFL rookies have a significant DFS edge. The draft will be held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX, from April 26-28.
This piece is on North Carolina State defensive end Bradley Chubb.
Senior | 6’4″ and 275 Pounds | Projection: Round 1
Combine numbers: 40-yard: 4.52 sec | bench reps: 29 | 3-cone: 7.09 sec | 20-yard shuttle: 4.25 sec | vertical: 38.5 in | broad: 128 in
Chubb has been overshadowed as a prospect to an extent thanks to all the quarterbacks at the top of this draft class. Still, there’s no doubting his credentials as a top-flight edge rusher. Chubb is every bit of his listed size, and he turned his final stint at Raleigh into a Bronko Nagurski Award, annually given to the nation’s best defender. The biggest knock on the Wolfpack’s best defensive end since Mario Williams seems to be his status as the ACC’s premiere towel thief. Barring any funny business prior to April, it’d be surprising not to hear the consensus All-American’s name within the first hour and a half of the 2018 draft.
It’s rare to find a prospect with elite college production and NFL-ready size, but that’s exactly what Chubb offers. He racked up 10-plus sacks and 20-plus tackles for a loss in each of his two final seasons at NC State while averaging a sack per game in his last eight combined contests against Notre Dame, Louisville, Florida State, and Clemson. Pro Football Focus graded Chubb as the nation’s No. 3 and No. 11 edge defender against the run and pass, but it’s his ability to dominate the latter category that makes him special.
Chubb is being projected as a 4-3 defensive end at the next level, but he was used all over the line during his senior season. He was a terror when asked to twist inside on stunts and even proved comfortable working in space as an off-ball linebacker at times. Still, it’s Chubb’s ability to beat tackles to the quarterback’s drop point that jumps off the film.
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) February 9, 2018
While Chubb didn’t demonstrate an incredibly advanced set of pass-rush moves, most offensive linemen had enough trouble trying to handle his freakish size-speed combination. He’s also more than adept at handling himself in the run game, as offenses typically took their chances running the ball elsewhere. NFL size, proven production, and Chubb’s sterling habit of finishing plays around the ball are his top attributes as the draft’s best defensive end prospect.
Over the past 25 years 18 defensive linemen have been drafted among the top-five picks. The group as a whole has been overwhelmingly successful, with Julius Peppers and Simeon Rice standing out the most. The only true non-injury related bust of the group was the Browns’ Courtney Brown, who was the first overall pick of the 2000 draft but racked up a mere 19 sacks in six seasons. Among our comp group, five players racked up at least eight sacks as rookies, while eight finished their first year with fewer than five. Life as a rookie is hard for any position, but especially for one that requires a consistent beating and adjustments on a play-by-play basis. It’s hard to find three-down defensive ends with the capacity to dominate on any given play and even harder to find ones that can do so quickly at the next level. Chubb’s aforementioned comp group bodes well for his chances at spending a long and productive career in the NFL, although expectations should be tempered when it comes to his Day 1 impact on opposing offenses.