2021 NFL Draft: Chuba Hubbard leaves plenty to be desired

2021 NFL Draft prospect, Chuba Hubbard (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
2021 NFL Draft prospect, Chuba Hubbard (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images) /

Running back Chuba Hubbard leaves plenty to be desired as a 2021 NFL Draft prospect.

Chuba Hubbard is coming off of a fantastic 2019 season and is commonly considered one of the top running back prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft. In his first season as the primary starting running back at Oklahoma State, Hubbard carried the ball 328 times for 2,094 yards and 21 touchdowns. He was an impressive workhorse back who was one of the premier offensive playmakers in college football.

That being said, as we dig deeper into Hubbard’s game, I have many questions about his ability to translate well to the next level. Hubbard has made the most out of his opportunities in Oklahoma State’s wide-open offensive attack, but he undoubtedly benefitted from massive holes and consistent room in the running game. That kind of space simply will not be available at the next level.

Hubbard is a fast and explosive player who gets into top gear quickly and shows impressive big-play ability, but he does not work well through small spaces. Hubbard will undoubtedly have less open-field space to work with at the next level and his limited short-area quickness will hurt him in those situations.

While his overall speed and burst are impressive, Hubbard lacks any sort of impact power at the running back position. His contact balance leaves plenty to be desired and rarely moves the pile after any sort of contact.

NFL running backs can certainly survive as pure speed players, but they must have strong overall skill-sets. In particular, these guys need to be able to contribute on the ground and through the air. Hubbard has shown the ability to carry the rock and make explosive plays as a runner, but his pass-catching ability is extremely limited.

Oklahoma State has not used Hubbard much as a pass-catcher out of the backfield and he does not look natural in that department when he does get an opportunity. If Hubbard can improve his receiving skills during the 2020 season, his 2021 NFL Draft profile can immediately go to the next level. However, until he improves this part of his game, I am not overly optimistic about his ability to shine as an NFL running back.

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Hubbard is an explosive player who does a great job of making the most out of his current opportunity. However, playing in the Oklahoma State offense against Big 12 defenses has afforded him a perfect situation to shine in college football. He will have to adapt his game in order to survive at the next level. A pure speed back with limited elusiveness and little pass-catching prowess is unlikely to have consistent success at the next level.