This year’s draft class for RBs has and will always be about Saquon Barkley, the standout star from Penn State but he isn’t the only name that is worth noting from this group of ball carriers.
Nick Chubb first burst on the scene at Georgia as a true freshman in 2014. He rushed for 1541 yards on 219 carries for a YPC of 7.1. This was helped by the fact that Chubb had been sharing the backfield with soon to be first round pick Todd Gurley until Gurley’s season was hampered by a suspension and then a injury. Gurley’s departure in 2015 gave the starting role to Chubb full time. However during a game early on the season suffered a horrific injury tearing his LCL, PCL and MCL along with suffering cartilage damage to the knee. This forced Chubb to miss the entire 2015 season.
Worthington’s(Chubb’s trainer) training also helped Chubb finish second in the nation in SPARQ testing -- a series of physical tests that includes NFL Scouting Combine events such as the 40-yard dash, the vertical jump and the pro shuttle run -- at the Nike Opening in 2013. Among his competition there were 2017 first-round draft picks such as Leonard Fournette, Jamal Adams, Solomon Thomas, Adoree’ Jackson, Deshaun Watson and Derek Barnett, none of whom posted an aggregate score higher than Jackson’s 122.7. Chubb blew them all away with a 143.9.
He exceeded 40 inches on the vertical jump, broke 4.5 seconds on a laser-timed 40-yard dash (4.47), and he’s bench pressed 225 pounds 26 times, which would have ranked second among running backs (behind Samaje Perine’s 30) at the 2017 combine. Whatever extra money there is to be made for Chubb at the combine, consider it claimed.
It’s pretty safe to say that the Nick Chubb pre-injury was a special athlete but 2 years after the injury how does Chubb’s athletic profile now look? Well with the completion of the combine we now have a more complete picture.
Here is Saquon Barkley’s numbers from the combine via Mockdraftable. Barkley had a freakish combine with a excellent bench press, 40 yard dash time and vertical jump all at 233lbs. For comparison, here is Chubb’s.
Chubb obviously isn’t going to be as good as Barkley but still some of his scores are simply phenomenal in their own right. His bench press, broad jump and vertical jump are all with the top 15 percentile at his position. This is all after Chubb’s injury.
To give you a idea about just how much of a freak Chubb is here’s a list of the SPARQ scores(a composite athletic score drawn from a players weight, 40 yard dash, vertical jump, 20 yard shuttle run and bench press) for some of the more notable RB’s in the past 3 draft classes courtesy of 3sigmaathlete:
rSPARQ Scores for 2015-18 RB’s.
Even after the injury Chubb’s scores are better than every RB that was taken in the first round over the past 3 years. Chubb is a unique story and has taken a unique path to getting to the NFL but his physical talent is still phenomenal even without the injury. Chubb tore 3 of the 4 main ligaments in his knee(ironically his ACL wasn’t one of them) and still is a world class athlete.
If nothing else this is a fascinating case study for the effects of major knee injuries on the overall athleticism of a player it’s going to be even more interesting to see how Chubb’s draft season and subsequent career in the NFL is going to turn out.