IDP Devy Watch: DE Sam Hubbard, Ohio State

Sam Hubbard (@Sam_Hubbard_) has taken a quite interesting career path to starring as a defensive end for the Ohio State Buckeyes. Back in high school (Archbishop Moeller, Cincinnati, Ohio) during the 2013 season, Hubbard played safety and did well enough to be an AP First Teamer in Ohio. Recruited as both an athlete and outside linebacker, Hubbard came to Ohio State as a 6’5” 225 lb. kid. Now weighing in at 265 lbs. Hubbard has all the athleticism and strength you look for in edge rushers. After he redshirted in 2014, Hubbard exploded onto the scene collecting 6.5 sacks and 8.0 tackles for loss in his redshirt freshman campaign. 2015 saw Hubbard step it up, recording 46 tackles (18 more than he did in 2014), however in the sack department Hubbard took a step back by only registering 3.5. With all the talent and intrigue Hubbard has, let’s break down his game and diagnose what his future in the NFL may look like.

Strengths

Athleticism:

The single most important piece for perhaps any defender trying to make the jump from college to the pros, is simply being able to keep up with the speed of the NFL game. For Hubbard, this will look like a walk in the park. Converting from safety to linebacker to defensive end, you can still see that absurd straight line speed that Hubbard possesses. When defending edge-runs and screens he really shows off by gliding over to make the play while some linemen look like they’re stuck in quicksand. Hubbard also has the all-important quickness while rushing off the edge (while maybe not elite). His best pass rushing skill may just be beating the linemen to his spot. Athletically, there are no real concerns with Hubbard.

Strength: I am pleasantly surprised with how strong Hubbard is when taking on blockers. This is what really has me excited about his future as a run defender. He is very proficient at holding his own, which allows him to stay in his gap and either puts him in place to make the tackle – or forces the back off course. With his athleticism and very good strength, I can’t wait to see what he does at the combine.

Technique:

Hubbard needs to work on his hand fighting. Too often blockers easily keep him in front of them and force him to overpower them. What I do like is his body positioning and tackling ability. Hubbard looks and tackles like a linebacker. Just imagine combining the tackling skills of a safety with the brute strength and size of a LB or DE, and that’s what you have with Hubbard. As for body positioning, I do want him to become more consistent and work on making sure he isn’t being turned sideways by blockers. But for the most part, Hubbard keeps a low center of gravity and uses his leverage and strength very well on offensive linemen.

Smarts:

You can tell while watching Hubbard that he is a very instinctual and crafty player. Whether he has natural football IQ and/or  studies very hard for upcoming games, Hubbard is obviously adept at recognizing mistakes made by offensive linemen and capitalizing. The one bone I would pick with Hubbard is not trying to swat enough passes, but that’s a pretty simple fix.

Weaknesses

Pass Rush:

Like many college players who are big, strong, and athletic like Hubbard, they actually rely too much on their natural ability while pass rushing and don’t develop very many pass rush skills. Too often Hubbard simply tries to run around the blocker, or push him right back into the quarterback. While that might work just fine, for now, that isn’t gonna work quite as well when going against the beasts the NFL has to offer. In his redshirt junior season, I really want to see Hubbard develop a couple moves to combine with the speed and power.

Summary

Sam Hubbard has all the natural talent you could ask for. With size, strength, and athleticism being strengths for him, he is set up very well for an illustrious NFL career. With really only needing to add pass rush moves to his arsenal, Hubbard should be a dominant player once again for the Scarlet and Gray. As for now, I have Hubbard as a high second round prospect. I realize that by reading the first sections you may have thought I would have ranked him as a high first rounder, but let me explain: While Hubbard is athletic, his quickness off the edge isn’t first-round quality at this point. He’s a great athlete, but not necessarily on par with the Myles Garrett’s, Derek Barnett’s, or Jordan Willis’ of the world. With room to grow in his game, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him become a first round talent throughout his junior year.

Below are several game cut-ups featuring Sam Hubbard in action:

Oklahoma 

Wisconsin

Penn State

Follow me on Twitter: @NFL_drafthub

bylitalo

Bradley Ylitalo, Minneapolis MN. Bethel Football Student Coach. Scouting/Devy writer for the Dynasty Football Factory. Follow me on twitter @NFL_drafthub or find me on facebook: Bradley Ylitalo

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