Playing in a crowded defensive line at Ohio State last season, Sam Hubbard had his best season for the Buckeyes. The junior recorded seven sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss, playing alongside fellow 2018 prospects Tyquan Lewis and Jalyn Holmes as well as sophomore Nick Bosa, who is far and away the best player on Ohio State’s defensive line.
Hubbard became a particularly interesting prospect as it pertains to the Seattle Seahawks after his showing at the Scouting Combine, where he posted a 6.84-second three cone. Pete Carroll and John Schneider have selected the EDGE defender who posted the best three cone at their position three times: Cassius Marsh, Frank Clark and Bruce Irvin. Hubbard led the pack this year and he happens to play the position that is the team’s biggest need as we head towards the draft.
Despite a lean, 6-5, 270-pound frame, Hubbard comes off the ball powerfully, however he doesn’t consistently translate that into a good get off. If he is able to become a more refined pass rusher in the pros, his combination of initial burst and change of direction could be deadly.
A great rush from Sam Hubbard: get off + win with his hands + bend and finish. he doesn't have a great get off but the snaps he does.. whew boy. if i were a team i'd be obsessing over the reps he has like this and overdraft him (and someone probably will) pic.twitter.com/9p9e5axtLR— Alistair Corp (@alistaircorp) March 15, 2018
Hubbard’s straight line speed is impressive and he regularly barrels down on backs and quarterbacks in the backfield with outstanding closing speed. His short-area quickness will translate to a stunt-happy scheme like Seattle’s.
Great short-area quickness and hilarity ensues pic.twitter.com/Hu4nVu4xfH— Alistair Corp (@alistaircorp) March 15, 2018
Against both the run and pass, Hubbard is relentless. He has great hustle and works to the ball consistently, chasing down running backs downfield if he has to.
I would estimate Hubbard made 1000-4000 tackles like this at Ohio State. He's so good at bringing down backs at the line of scrimmage pic.twitter.com/KA4sBOAMXf— Alistair Corp (@alistaircorp) March 15, 2018
As an outside pass rusher, Hubbard will get sacks simply by cleaning up after interior pressure forces the quarterback to leave the pocket.
Hubbard has a lot of plays like this -- nothing special but he keeps his eyes on the QB and cleans up. Relentlessness is key up-front for Pete Carroll, Hubbard works and works and works pic.twitter.com/yLcLMgdO4z— Alistair Corp (@alistaircorp) March 15, 2018
At the point of attack against the run, Hubbard can be overwhelmed. Either attempting to cheat inside or shoot through the B-gap, he is pushed off balance and moved off the line of scrimmage against the run. Hubbard has the frame and athletic profile to be a solid three-down edge defender - there are flashes of great power - but at the moment he’s an undisciplined run defender and could be eased in as a situational pass rusher.
I'm unsure if Hubbard can hold up at the POA on the edge but then there's plays like this where he pushes tackles into the quarterback's lap and i can't help but be a believer. "affect the quarterback's base" pic.twitter.com/NMHDTvpKUp— Alistair Corp (@alistaircorp) March 15, 2018
At his best, Hubbard wins with his get off, landing the initial punch before ripping to beat the tackle opposite him. At his worst, he’s complacent with his hands and attempts to rely on bully-ball to disengage. Hubbard has an accurate, powerful punch but doesn’t do enough after landing; the majority of his sacks I saw were him jacking the tackle back with initial contact before closing on the quarterback.
As a counter, Hubbard has a terrific spin move. While a good portion of his game is still raw, possessing an effective counter at this stage is a great thing to have moving forward.
Sets up his spin move really well too. I'm in the minority in that he struck me as complacent with his hand usage at times but his spin as a counter is awesome. pic.twitter.com/KnH6Uh4LeI— Alistair Corp (@alistaircorp) March 15, 2018
Tying into his inconsistent pass rush, Hubbard’s elite three cone doesn’t translate to the football field nearly enough. With such a strong punch, I would love to see Hubbard try and dip around the corner more often after opening up the tackle opposite him. Without translating his flexibility and change of direction ability into his pass rush, it’s hard to imagine Hubbard as a double-digit sack defender in the NFL.
Hubbard has the traits and athletic profile of a successful, three-down EDGE in the NFL. An elite three cone score like Hubbard’s (97th percentile) is a common trait in some of the game’s best EDGEs. As the NFL Draft approaches, there should be question marks surrounding his play against the run, as well how far along he is as a pass rusher. With an excellent three cone and playing at a position of need, Hubbard should be a name to watch on the draft’s second day.