Hubbard's big-play ability could make him a difference-maker in the NFL
Teams looking for a potential difference-maker at running back in the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft will certainly take a close look at Chuba Hubbard. The former Oklahoma State standout didn't do much damage last season, but he was a unanimous All-American and the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year in 2019 after rushing for 2,094 yards and 21 touchdowns. There are some questions about how he will transfer from the Cowboys' spread system to the next level, but the big-play potential is obvious and that alone should ensure that some team takes him off the board sooner rather than later.
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Chuba Hubbard Draft Profile
College: Oklahoma State
Hubbard brings plenty of juice to the backfield as a quick and agile mover with the third gear to deliver the big play. He’s better between the tackles than you’d expect for a guy who isn’t a big back; he’s nimble in tight spaces; and his twitched-up athleticism and ability to string together moves make him especially slippery. He runs with good contact balance. He has a feel for letting blocks develop in front of him on power runs, displaying good vision. He’ll spot cutback opportunities and take advantage. But he’s at his best when he can get into space. He’ll get outside and turn the corner without sacrificing speed, and when he breaks through, he shows the third gear to hit the home run. He has soft hands and is dangerous in space, with the ability to become a more versatile receiving weapon than he was at the collegiate level. He has experience as a kick returner as well.
Oklahoma State’s spread concepts certainly created some opportunities for Hubbard, and the leap from the Big 12 to the NFL will be significant. His contact balance and leg drive might not hold up as well at the next level, when the running lanes aren’t going to be as wide. He also must become more physical in blitz pick-up in order to be a more complete third-down contributor. His workload the past two seasons is a concern as well, and he had too many fumbles at the college level.
Hubbard is a nifty, creative runner with big-play ability, and his floor is as a multi-purpose back who’s dangerous in space. Hubbard’s explosiveness gives him the potential to be a difference-maker out of the backfield.
Final Grade: 2nd/3rd round