Career Recap: Ohio State has always been a football powerhouse, but with Urban Meyer as head coach, the program has become even more prolific at producing NFL talent. Over the past few drafts, the Buckeyes have set records for early round picks, and that shouldn't change in 2018 as there is plenty of talent in Columbus to impress NFL evaluators this fall. Hubbard should be one of those prospects as the redshirt junior could be poised for a big season.
Hubbard redshirted for a year before working his way onto the field in 2015. He flashed his potential with 6.5 sacks that season to go along with 28 tackles and an interception. In 2016, Hubbard collected 46 tackles with eight for a loss, 3.5 sacks and two passes batted.
2017 Season Outlook: The Big Ten has definitely improved the amount of good NFL talent it has been producing compared to a decade ago, but Hubbard still has a relatively easy slate of offensive tackles on his schedule. Aside from some weaker Big Ten opponents like Indiana, Rutgers, Maryland and Illinois; the Buckeyes have games against Army and UNLV for Hubbard to pad his stats.
There are a few NFL offensive tackle prospects on Hubbard's schedule this season. The first one is Oklahoma behemoth Orlando Brown. With his size advantage, Brown (6-8, 360) will test Hubbard's run defense. They square off in Week 2 of the season.
Late in the year, Hubbard will see some quality tackles in Michigan's Grant Newsome and Iowa's Ike Boettger. Overall though, this looks like a good schedule for Hubbard to improve on his production from 2016.
Skill-Set Summary: The passing-driven nature of the NFL makes getting after the quarterback with tough edge defenders a necessity. Every year in the NFL Draft, pass-rushers rise up boards as the need to effect the quarterback is insatiable across the league. Hubbard should be one of those in demand edge defenders in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Hubbard gave some consideration toward entering the 2017 NFL Draft, and area scouts did some work on him in case he did declare. Sources have said that they liked Hubbard's skill set as he is big with impressive movement skills. They would like to see some more production from him in 2017.
In the pass rush, Hubbard can get after the quarterback. He has upper body strength to fight through blockers with some quickness around the corner. Hubbard has active hands and uses them at the same time as his feet. He is capable of beating tackles with speed or strength. Hubbard is a sturdy end, but not super explosive or a blinding speed rusher off the edge.
In the ground game, Hubbard is generally reliable to hold his gap. He fights off blocks and gets in on tackles. Hubbard shows some recognition skills and instincts to stay home on misdirection plays. Sometimes, it takes him biting on a fake and then the rest of the game he maintains better discipline. Hubbard definitely has the body to be a base end in the NFL. He would probably fit best as an end in a 4-3 defense rather than a standup outside linebacker in a 3-4.
As a fourth-year junior, Hubbard's main goals should be to rack up sacks via improvements in his pass rush. He should add more moves like a rip and club moves to take advantage of his strength. Producing more sacks would be huge for Hubbard's draft grade.
2018 NFL Draft Expectations: If Hubbard can show improvement in his pass-rush skills that translates to more production with a good sack total, he has a shot at being a first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. If Hubbard duplicates his play from last year, he still should be an early rounder.