Career Recap: Nobody was expecting a backup freshman running back to take the SEC by storm in 2014, especially when the starting running back was superstar Todd Gurley, but that is exactly what Chubb did. Gurley missed time with a suspension before tearing an ACL, which ended his season early. Chubb was phenomenal as a replacement, averaging 7.1 yards per carry for 1,547 yards with 14 touchdowns. He caught 18 receptions for 213 yards and two scores.
In 2015 with Gurley in the NFL, Chubb took over as the feature back for the Bulldogs and picked up where he left off as a freshman. The sophomore averaged 8.1 yards per carry for 747 yards and seven touchdowns in only five games. He had four receptions for 32 yards and a score as well. In his final complete game of the year, he ran for 146 yards on 20 carries with a touchdown against eventual National Champion Alabama. Chubb tore his ACL against Tennessee in Georgia's next contest and missed the final seven contests of the season.
As a junior, Chubb had an impressive start to 2016 when he made it back for the season opener and ripped off 222 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries against North Carolina. Unfortunately for Chubb, that was his best game of the season, and he didn't look like the same player. In 2016, Chubb averaged 5.0 yards per carry for 1,130 yards with eight touchdowns. He had five receptions for 86 yards and a touchdown as well.
2017 Season Outlook: Chubb will face plenty of defensive talent as a senior. He could get off to a good start with mismatch games against Appalachian State and Samford in the first three weeks. Georgia plays Notre Dame in Week 2, and last year, the Fighting Irish fielded a weak defense. Chubb will see his toughest stretches of defensive talent in the back half of the season with Missouri, Florida, South Carolina and Auburn over a 4-week stretch.
Skill-Set Summary: The running back position has made something of a comeback in the first round of the NFL Draft after going a few years without a first-round back. The dry spell ended when Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon broke through in 2015, and Ezekiel Elliott kept the trend going in 2016. The 2017 NFL Draft then featured two top-10 picks in Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey. If Chubb can get back to his pre-injury form, he could challenge to be a Thursday night selection in the 2018 NFL Draft to keep the renewed tradition alive.
Before the injury, Chubb was impossible not to like as a runner. He was akin to a human bowling ball, rolling over tacklers and and being a physical force in the tackle box. Chubb was a powerful runner who also had the quickness and explosion to rip off yards in chunks. With his thick build and low center of gravity, he had tremendous balance, and that allowed him to maintain his feet after contact. Chubb was superb at picking up yards after contact and breaking tackles. His ability to shed defenders and accelerate downfield was very rare.
Chubb showed a real burst to the hole and acceleration to the second-level defense. He used that speed to consistently break runs into sizable gains. His body lean and ability to run behind his pads were excellent. That made it very difficult for defenders to get a hold of Chubb and get him to the ground. He displayed quality ball security as well.
In 2016, Chubb didn't seem to have the speed and explosion that he had before his 2015 knee injury. Considering he was playing less than a year since he was hurt, that was understandable. The junior just wasn't as dynamic. He wasn't as fast to the hole or the second level and didn't have the same power or physicality. That being said, Chubb displayed some nice blitz pickup at times in 2016. He also flashed the quickness, power, and cutting ability to move the chains, but just wasn't as devastating a runner. Even at 80-90 percent though, Chubb was a tough back capable of hurting a defense.
I reached out to team sources to get their opinion on Chubb to see where they were grading him before he decided to return to school rather than enter the 2017 NFL Draft. Sources from three different teams said they thought Chubb was a potential first-rounder pre-injury, while his play last year made him more of a second-day prospect. One general manager said they would have had Chubb as a late second- or third-rounder if he had entered the 2017 NFL Draftraft. They feel he could have been a steal there if could return to his old form.
The 2017 season will be a huge test for Chubb as to whether if he can get back to his pre-injury form. In order to be a first-rounder, he has to find the speed and explosion he displayed as a freshman and sophomore.
For the NFL, I think Chubb could become a three-down starter and a devastating runner. Provided he re-gains his pre-injury status, he could be a special talent who transforms a pro offense with a physical rushing attack.
2018 NFL Draft Expectations: If Chubb returns to his pre-injury form, I think he will could be back in first-round consideration. If he stays similar to last year or is only slightly better than he was in 2016, I think he will probably be a second-day pick.