If you didn’t hear about Georgia running back Nick Chubb during last year’s college football season, then let me catch you up because you’re missing out on the best running back prospect ever! Oh wait, did he just say that? Yes I did and I’d like you to hear me out.
Strengths: Speed, Power, Vision, Hands, Size and Character.
Listed at 5’10” and 228 pounds, Chubb starts off with the perfect size for a back. He’s built low to the ground, which gives him a huge leverage advantage over defenders and they literally bounce off of him. The power in his lower body lets him break an unbelievable amount of tackles. He has high 4.3 speed that lets him truly separate from defensive backs, which is rare for a player weighing almost 230 pounds. Chubb displays very good patience at the line of scrimmage and has a knack for finding the big hole. He is slow to the hole, but fast through the hole, which is perfect for a back. I see soft hands catching the football and a workman like attitude. He isn’t one to celebrate, but acts like he’s been there before…probably because he is there often!
Weaknesses: Abuse and Agility.
Chubb sacrifices his body often for more yardage and it leads to a lot of abuse on his body. Will this leads to more injuries and a shortened career? I don’t know, but it makes him a much more effective runner for fantasy purposes. I also don’t see a wide assortment of moves in his repertoire to make defenders miss. He uses a pressure cut well and his power, but not a lot outside of those two.
Next, let’s compare Chubb’s freshman season against some of the best the SEC has ever produced.
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I included Mark Ingram, Jeremy Hill, Knowshon Moreno and Ronnie Brown even though they were all redshirted because I wanted to give more of a sample size. TJ Yeldon, Darren McFadden and Gurley were the only players that were somewhat close to matching Chubb and even they were almost a full yard per carry less. Shaun Alexander had a great yard per carry average but almost a third of the yards that Chubb produced. It’s also interesting to look at Leonard Fournette’s successful season and then see that Chubb averaged 1.6 more yards every carry!
Now let’s compare Chubb to some of the all-time greats at the running back position from other conferences.
The previous chart made Chubb’s season impressive, but this chart puts it up there with the all-time best for a freshman. Ron Dayne really sets the standard with his 2,109 yards and 21 touchdowns, but he’s .6 yards per carry behind Chubb. Marshall Faulk has nearly identical numbers to Chubb and has seven more touchdowns, so I would probably give him the advantage from a pure statistical analysis. Then I look that Faulk played a ton of cream puff teams such as Long Beach State, Pacific, Wyoming, Texas El-Paso, etc. Chubb on the other hand faced the SEC in most of his matchups. But honestly, it doesn’t matter if his season is the best or finishes number two when compared to one of the best running backs in NFL history.
Statistics don’t seamlessly translate to NFL stardom. However, the one thing we should take away from this exercise is that Nick Chubb did something truly special in 2014. Therefore, he should be treated as a once in a decade type of prospect when you take into account his size and athleticism. What should we expect as an encore? Honestly, brace yourselves for disappointment. Faulk, Dayne, CJ Spiller, McFadden all saw their yards per carry drop by half a yard or more in their sophomore campaign. Todd Gurley and Yeldon saw smaller drops in the .2-.3 range, but still regressed. If Chubb improves, then we can all officially know that He-Man truly does exist.
Nick can be found on Twitter at @_NickWhalen