Few running backs have started their college career the way Nick Chubb did. In his freshman year, Chubb had to step into a featured role after Todd Gurley had his final season at Georgia cut short by injury. Chubb wasted no time in getting to becoming a dominant force in college football. Chubb rushed for over 1,500 yards and 14 touchdowns in his first season at Georgia, averaging over SEVEN yards a carry. Unreal numbers for an 18 year old back in the SEC.
Chubb started his sophomore season off hot; averaging over eight yards per carry on his first 92 carries and scoring seven touchdowns. However, his early dominant run of his career was cut short on the first carry of his sixth game in his sophomore season. Chubb suffered a gruesome knee injury. I am not going to link the injury here, but it is truly the type of leg injury that sticks in your mind if you saw it on television. In that moment, it was hard to think Chubb would return to football, let alone be a force again in college ball.
Fast forward a few months and in his first game back from injury, to kick off the 2016 season, Chubb ran for over 220 yards against UNC in a win. Chubb had defied his own health. While the rest of his junior season showed only a shadow of the player he was as he rushed for 1,130 yards at only five yards a carry, Chubb flashed his pre-injury brilliance at times and gave hope to an eventual full recovery. Instead of opting to enter a talented 2017 draft class, full of running backs; Chubb wanted to finish his career at Georgia.
This year, Nick Chubb is back.
At his best, there are only a few backs that match Chubb’s talent as a ball carrier. The 5’10”, nearly 230 pound running back is part of a multi-headed monster in Georgia’s backfield but he is clearly their best back. He is a rare combination of size, strength and overall athleticism.
As a former high school track star, it is not surprising that Chubb is so well put together athletically. Not only is he incredibly well built, but he has speed, quickness and special balance.
While it’s only a short run, Chubb’s ability to make defenders miss at the first level and find his feet through contact to keep running is really special. It is rare to see Chubb phased by weak tackle attempts and his natural leverage as a runner makes him hard to wrap up. Also, once he gets to speed, it’s going to be a chore to tackle him as well.
Georgia does a great job clearing the line for Chubb to run through. His acceleration is surprising at his size and would be tacklers, once again, do not phase him as he is full speed ahead towards the end zone.
Chubb is a great athlete, and that is evident in his runs, but even more impressive is the kind of player he is above the shoulders. He is not just an athlete bashing into the line of scrimmage in hopes of finding yardage, rather he has an exceptional blend of vision, decision making and physicality in his runs. There is a level of detail to his game that makes him so special.
In this run, Chubb is supposed to read the play side tackle to decide whether to run outside or run to the tackle’s inside shoulder. While the tackle initially leaves the outside gap open to Chubb, he kicks the defender to the edge. Chubb quickly adjusts, makes a cut to the inside of the tackle and has a nice gain. It is a small play and these are little nuances to the game, but it is clear that Nick Chubb is a student of the game.
Once again, Chubb shows off his patience in finding the hole for him to pick up positive yardage. All the while, he never stops his feet, which is incredibly important for backs trying to create behind the line of scrimmage. The small details in Nick Chubb’s game not only separate him from many college backs, but also make the difference between two yard gains and 10 yard gains. His “mental game” is going to help him adjust quickly to the pros.
My favorite part of Chubb’s game is the profound violence in which he runs. He truly runs like somebody pissed in his breakfast.
The game against Notre Dame this season was a bit different for Chubb in the sense that the Irish really did a good job crashing the line of scrimmage and tightening up the running lanes for him. In response, Chubb turned in a game of punishment deliverance in order to gain tough yardage.
NFL Comparison: While this is not a direct comparison and I do not want to seem overly optimistic; Chubb’s blend of athletic ability, size and football IQ is reminiscent of Marshawn Lynch. The only real knock on Chubb at this point is that he is not an experienced pass catcher and that he is less of a “big play” back. However, he is the type of back who can get the ball 20 times a game and nary have a play where he goes backwards and that is valuable.
It is a bit dreamy to think of Nick Chubb in Philadelphia’s current offense. The team has found a some juice in their running game and imagine Chubb running behind the line next year instead of LeGarrette Blount ... Also imagine the jokes that would come from a Chubb/Smallwood backfield! (Sorry)
Anyway, it is hard to see Chubb get out of the top forty picks in the draft if he keeps up his current level of play. If the Eagles are picking late in the first round (which looks likely at this point), Chubb could be a no brainer.