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 Ohio state defensive end Sam Hubbard, who has declared early for the draft. For the total list of all players leaving school early, see our underclassmen tracker.
Redshirt Junior | 6’5″ and 265 Pounds | Projection: Rounds 1-2
Combine numbers: 40-yard: DNP | bench reps: DNP | 3-cone: 6.84 sec | 20-yard shuttle: 4.32 sec | vertical: 35 in | broad: 116 in
Hubbard is one of three Ohio State defensive ends expected to hear their names called this April. Hubbard originally committed to Notre Dame to play lacrosse, but he was persuaded to join the Buckeyes after Urban Meyer saw him play a game of dodgeball. The former high school safety has since added 70 pounds while retaining enough foot speed to give Big Ten tackles fits. Fascinating back story aside, Hubbard will likely be a first- or second-round pick thanks to his NFL size and constant motor.
Despite Hubbard’s aforementioned unique physical gifts, he was forced to work largely in a rotation on the Buckeyes’ stacked defensive front. His 30 tackles for a loss and 17 sacks in 39 career games indicate he still made an important impact, but it was his performance in key games that made him unique.
- Notre Dame: 4 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 sack
- Oklahoma (twice): 2 tackles, 0.5 TFL, 0.5 sacks; 6 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack
- Michigan (twice): 6 tackles, 0.5 TFL; 5 tackles, 2.5 TFLs, 2.5 sacks
- Clemson: 5 tackles, 1 TFL, 0.5 sacks
- USC: 4 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 2.5 sacks
While Hubbard’s background would perhaps indicate that he’s a twitchy pass-rush minded end, his performance against the run proved to be consistently excellent. Overall, Pro Football Focus credited him as the best Big Ten edge defender in run stop percentage in 2016.
Although he’s a former safety, Hubbard has the developed pass-rushing technique of a veteran, as he consistently utilizes his hands to break down his opponent before bending back to the quarterback. His first step won’t be what earns him a Day 1 selection, but he makes up for this lack of burst with a never-ending motor and deep arsenal of moves.
Hubbard undoubtedly benefited from playing across from both Bosa brothers during his time in Columbus, and his days of being able to pass rush without a chip or double team may be numbered. Still, good things happen when men his size consistently chase the football, and Hubbard has proven this proverb true with three seasons of solid play on one of the best defenses in the country. His production could be maximized with a creative defensive coordinator willing to utilize Hubbard on twists and zone drops alike.
Barring the worst NFL combine performance of all time, Hubbard will become Meyer’s sixth defensive lineman drafted since 2013. It’d be foolish to expect the second coming of Joey Bosa, but Hubbard’s consistently great impact shouldn’t be ignored. Many young defensive ends don’t possess the chops against the run to play three downs right away. Hubbard might not have a single A-plus trait, but plenty of teams will still be in the market for a defensive end with B-plus qualities across the board. It wouldn’t be surprising if he develops into an effective multi-year starter, but it would be surprising if Hubbard’s impact causes headaches for fantasy owners in 2018.
In our most recent mock draft, we have Hubbard going to the Titans at No. 25.
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