While it is hard to pinpoint that many glaring needs on the Eagles roster, it is worth noting some prospects Eagles fans should be interested in heading into the season. As we get closer to the beginning of college football, I want to highlight some of the more intriguing prospects in the country. Can a former freshman star regain his pre-injury form?
Name: Nick Chubb
Position: Running Back
Measurements: 5-10, 228 pounds
2016 Stats: 224 Attempts, 1130 Yards, 8 Rushing Touchdowns, 5 Receptions, 86 Yards, 1 Receiving Touchdown
It feels like eons ago that Nick Chubb was taking over for the injured Todd Gurley midseason only to set the SEC on fire. As a freshman, Chubb filled in for a future first round pick and picked up over 1500 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground, adding 200 more yards and two more touchdowns through the air. After Gurley left for the NFL, Chubb was all set to take the crown as the best back in the nation. Chubb started his sophomore season strong; rushing for almost 750 yards in only five games to start the season. Then, on his first carry in the sixth game of the season, Chubb suffered a gruesome knee injury that tore every ligament in his knee except his ACL. He lost the rest of a promising season but somehow returned in time for the opening game of his junior season and he started his revenge tour like this....
Chubb rushed for over 220 yards and two touchdowns in his first game back from injury and in the process showed off all the things that make him such a gifted player. His footwork and acceleration are unlivable for a thickly built back like Chubb. Factor in his natural balance, pad level and power and he is a complete runner.
He has awesome leg drive that maximizes his strength as a player and when he gets going down hill it is rare to see him go down at first contact.
Once again, it is so difficult to get Chubb at first contact. He is a short, stout back who runs low so defenders will just fall off of him if they don't put full mustard behind their tackle attempts.
There's a significant amount of nuance to his game in the way he is able to stay patient hind the line and wait for blocks to develop. He is a cerebral back who with good vision and behind the line football IQ.
Here is another example of not only Chubb's patience, but also his ability to plant his foot and jet upfield. As a runner, his biggest flaw is probably a lack of burning speed at top gear (he gets caught from behind on this play) but it hardly prohibits him from creating big plays because of the rest of his gifts.
He will probably need to prove he can be more of a third down option as well. While Chubb had a nice season catching the ball his freshman year, he has only caught nine passes since. He loses third down reps to Sony Michel who is definitely the better receiver, but it would be nice to see him flash more in that department. Chubb's junior year was a bit up and down as it was clear there were games where he did not look 100% Nick Chubb but others where he looked like the freshman phenom people originally got on board for. Having a full offseason where he is focusing on improving his craft instead of purely focusing on rehab (which obviously was a good thing to do), should translate into a season where he is fully ready, conditioned and confident in his knee to perform. It should be a very exciting final season for Chubb in Athens.
NFL Comparison: Jonathan Stewart
Why should Eagles fans care?
Highlighted in the Saquon Barkley preview, it is pretty clear the Eagles outlook at the running back position is bleak. The Eagles and Eagles fans should have their eyes peeled this season for young running back talent who could take over in the backfield. After all, there are so many players to get excited about.
What games will be pivotal for Chubb?
Playing in the SEC East; games against schools like Florida, Tennessee and Vanderbilt should be big moments for Chubb to show out against stingy defenses. I am particularly interest in Georgia's September 9th match up with Notre Dame. While Notre Dame had a rough year last season, they are in to rebound considering that they always stay stocked with talent. Chubb will likely be leaned on a lot in big games if he is fully healthy and it will be exciting to see how he responds.