What Are the Cleveland Browns Getting in Nick Chubb?
Georgia has truly been a running back factory in recent years. The Bulldogs brought us Todd Gurley, and in this year's draft class we have Nick Chubb and Sony Michel (as the next stud, D'Andre Swift, waits in the wings).
Chubb -- at least, before his season-ending left knee injury in 2015 -- might have been the best of the bunch. Better even, perhaps, than Gurley.
Had Chubb not injured his leg, it's very possible he would have been looked at as just as strong of a prospect as his Georgia teammate, Gurley. As a freshman, Chubb rushed for 1,547 yards and 14 touchdowns on 7.1 yards per carry. As a sophomore, before his injury, he had 747 yards and 7 touchdowns on just 92 carries, good for a ridiculous 8.2 YPC. For comparison, Gurley never averaged more than 6.2 YPC in a full season (although he was more involved as a receiver than Chubb ever was).
At the Combine, Chubb showed off his trademark explosiveness on the way to a 98th-Percentile SPARQ-x score, per Player Profiler. And his game tape is certainly something to behold.
Nick Chubb? Iâ€™m good to go... pic.twitter.com/TBKOgr6PAs
â€” Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) February 23, 2018
Sure, Chubb may not be the otherworldly talent he looked like pre-injury, way back in 2015, and Chubb ranked 4th in Fantasy Guru's Yards Created metric among running backs in this draft class (Michel was number-two). But there are signs from his college production that Chubb may be recapturing his pre-injury form. According to Pro Football Focus, he posted the 4th-best elusive rating in the 2017 draft class and his highest overall PFF grade came in 2017. While his injury certainly played a role, it will be interesting to see if he can contribute in the passing game at the next level, especially given that he'll now share the backfield with an elite pass-catching back.
Chubb's biggest weakness is in the receiving game. He had 18 receptions as a freshman, but only 13 in his final 3 seasons in college.
As a member of the Cleveland Browns, Chubb may not be used a workhorse right away. His workload could be similar to what it was at Georgia -- he's likely to see the majority of the carries, considering the significant investment the Browns made in him. But he'll be used only sparingly in the passing game with Duke Johnson already entrenched in that role.
There is upside for Chubb to be used as a feature back, and we know the talent is there. Consider Dalvin Cook of the Minnesota Vikings, who last year had an incumbent satellite back in Jerick McKinnon. Similarly, the Browns have Johnson. The Vikings signed Latavius Murray to be the between-the-tackles back complement to McKinnon, just like Carlos Hyde was brought on to be the thunder to Johnson's lightning in Cleveland.
Yet the Vikings still drafted Cook early in the second round based on his talent, and he was given a featured role prior to his season-ending injury. Of course, the same thing won't necessarily happen for Chubb just because Cook did it last year, but it's not hard to imagine a similar situation playing out. No matter what, Chubb's talent will put him on the field early and often in Cleveland.