Earlier this week I released my first running back report on Rashaad Penny of San Diego State University, making the case for Indianapolis to take him with their final pick in the second round. While the reactions toward Penny were varied and conflicting, there was something much more alarming than the running back discussed in the article.
One of the names that filled the comment section the most was Nick Chubb of Georgia, and more specifically that the Colts should use a late round pick on the 5’11”, 227 pound running back. This was extremely alarming to me, as the former four-star recruit is one of the scariest prospects in this draft — an individual I wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole if I’m Chris Ballard and his staff.
Before I dive into why I would avoid Nick Chubb at all costs, it’s fair to mention the things that he does well as a runner.
BALL SECURITY — In his 47 games with the Bulldogs, Chubb had just eight fumbles in 758 career carries. That’s just barely over a one percent fumble rate. His ability to keep the ball pinned to his chest and not lose control of it while coming to the ground is certainly a plus.
BALANCE — Chubb has a great center of gravity and runs close to the ground. It keeps him balanced while running through the trenches and is a big plus when bracing for contact. He sheds a lot of arm tackles because of this and does a good job to make sure he falls forward when he eventually is brought down.
INJURY HISTORY — Chubb is currently healthy, but he’s far from the runner he was in 2015 — where he missed a majority of the season due to several torn ligaments in his left knee. Chubb was ready for the beginning of his junior year in 2016, however, he took several steps back and has yet to regain his ability in full.
EXPLOSIVENESS — One of the biggest things Chubb lost after his gruesome injury was his burst. While he has been able to slowly regain his explosiveness and burst since the injury, I question if his legs will ever fully regain what they previously were.
RUNNING STYLE — Another problem that can occur after a severe injury, especially to the lower body, is the mental impact it can have going forward. Despite being 227 pounds, Chubb runs afraid — he’s living the life of a finesse running back in a power running back’s body. He’s timid working between the tackles and braces for contact way too early before any is actually made.
RECEIVING ABILITY — So many running backs in the draft class are multi-faceted — great runners, solid receivers out of the backfield and some that even add potential on special teams. Nick Chubb is not one of those individuals. In his last three seasons, Chubb caught 13 passes and was rarely on the field in passing situations. While the Bulldogs did have a much better receiving back on the roster in Sony Michel, Chubb wasn't used because of his inadequacy in route-running, pass blocking and his inability to create in open space. He adds zero value in the passing game, especially at the next level.
Watching the 2015 tape of Nick Chubb was actually quite depressing. His top speed, agility, and burst were far better than what he had shown in his last two years and it’s disappointing to think what his NFL career could’ve been if he was injury free.
At the end of the day, he’s a rotational running back at the next level. I don’t trust him to carry the workload in the NFL and his lack of agility and burst limits him to a between-the-tackles runner with nothing to do in the passing game.
Fit with Indy
My ninth-ranked running back, I expect Chubb to be selected in the middle rounds — just not by Indianapolis. For the Colts, Marlon Mack has the makings of a third down back, at the least, with upside going into next year. The Colts should be looking for their premiere running back, not someone who at most is a short-yardage back with a poor injury history.
There are several running backs in this year’s class — Saquon Barkley, Sony Michel, Rashaad Penny and Derrius Guice — that have the makings of a lead running back. At least one of these backs will be available toward the end of the second round, so I see no need in wasting time to find the running back of the future, especially when running backs such as Chubb are highly questionable and concerning toward the end of the draft.