The New York Giants shook up the top of the draft when they traded Jason Pierre-Paul to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Not only did the move open up new options for the second overall pick in the draft, it also opened up options later in the draft.
One such option could be Sam Hubbard of Ohio State. Hubbard doesn’t generate the same type of excitement as some other edge rushers in this draft class, but a closer look reveals an interesting player and an intriguing prospect.
Could he now be in play to be an answer at outside linebacker for the Giants?
- Prototypical frame. Nearly ideal build for an edge rusher.
- Exceptional hand usage.
- Very good athlete. Elite short-area quickness.
- Shows a variety of pass rush moves.
- Versatile. Can rush as a DE, OLB, or DT.
- Former DB who is comfortable playing in space.
- Disciplined rusher. Rarely over-runs a play and is a reliable tackler.
- High work ethic.
- Doesn’t have elite explosiveness, isn’t a “twitchy” athlete.
- Played in a stacked defensive front.
- Produced, but never really took over games.
- Frame is likely maxed out.
What They’re Saying
SOURCES TELL US
“I think he’s going to end up being a good pro. He plays hard all the time. He just needs to add a little more muscle and find a go-to move that he can win with as a rusher and he’ll be a consistent starter for years.” -- NFC team director of college scouting
Does Hubbard Fit The Giants?
For some reason Hubbard isn’t being talked about much. There is plenty of conversation regarding Bradley Chubb and Marcus Davenport, renewed buzz around Harold Landry, questions about Arden Key, and plenty of interest in Trumaine Edmunds, but not much about Hubbard.
In some ways it’s understandable. He played on a stacked Ohio State defensive line that sent waves of NFL-caliber pass rushers after quarterbacks, and Hubbard isn’t the type of player who leaps off the screen with flash plays or freakish athleticism.
Instead, he is a steady presence on the field. The guy who is always around the ball, always hustling, and will make the play when the play is his to make. But taking a closer look, it’s also not hard to find things to get excited about.
Hubbard has clearly put A LOT of work into becoming a well-rounded, polished edge rusher. He was a safety when he came to Ohio State, and over the years has added more than 40 pounds of muscle to his 6’5” frame while developing an impressive mastery of his position’s technique for a college player. Hubbard has excellent hand usage, consistently fighting to keep blockers from locking on or being taken out by cut blocks. He also has a variety of moves to employ -- at time using a bull rush, a rip move, a swim move, a “push-pull”, and a spin move. More impressive than his variety of moves is that he always seems to have a plan, knowing which move to use when, and seamlessly chaining them together.
The result is a player who is remarkably slippery for blockers and usually finds himself in position to make a sound tackle.
Perhaps most impressively, it’s still possible to see the former defensive back in his play. Hubbard looks natural at linebacker, easily dropping back into space and he has legitimately elite short-area quickness, as evidenced by his 6.84s 3-cone drill. Not only did that put him in the 97th percentile of EDGE players, but would have put him in the top half of defensive backs.
Considering the hole opened by the Giants’ trade of Jason Pierre-Paul and their lack of outside linebackers, Hubbard should fit the Giants’ revamped defense. He probably doesn’t have the upside to add muscle and play the 5-technique. However, his movement skills are strong enough that he should be able to slot in as an EDGE player opposite of Olivier Vernon -- even if it means dropping a bit of weight.
It’s also worth noting that Hubbard’s athletic profile of height, weight, length, and agility fits in well with DaeSean Hall and Kony Ealy, the last two edge rushers Dave Gettleman drafted — as well as Chandler Jones, who had great success under James Bettcher.
Hubbard could make an excellent pick in the second round, particularly if the Giants wind up with multiple picks toward the top of the round.