Scouting some players is easy. They play in the perfect system, and what they do well is on display on a weekly basis. For other players, it is much harder. It seems that from one game to another, a prospect can go from elite to borderline without so much as a warning.
When it comes to scouting the prospects for the 2014 NFL Draft, Alabama linebacker Adrian Hubbard falls into the latter. If you have watched him play but only watched him play a single game, your opinion of him could be very high or very low. I was fortunate to be able to go back and review six of Alabama’s games from 2012, and have put together a fairly clear picture of Hubbard as we enter the season.
- Ideal NFL frame, with room to add more weight easily
- Long arms and extends them well
- Good leverage coming off the edge
- Nice package of pass rush moves
- Good explosion off the line of scrimmage
- Smart football player
- Understands angles, especially in run support
- Nice speed in pursuit
- Wrap up tackler
- Wins at the point of attack
- Experience in the 3-4 but big enough to play in a 4-3
- Looks hesitant at times, lacking confidence perhaps
- Forced to play contain a lot in 2012
- Needs to be more physical at the point of attack
- Won’t have elite triangle numbers
- Lack of experience
- Needs to splash plays
- Overruns plays at times
2013 Season Outlook
Hubbard is poised to have a massive 2013 season. His physical stature is impressive. He has the build to start as a rush outside linebacker in the NFL, or could pack on 10 pounds of muscle and drop down as a 4-3 defensive end.
The biggest thing I want to see out of Hubbard in 2013 is more — just more in general. Too many games last season, particularly against teams that ran the ball, Hubbard was asked to play contain, not fire off the football at the snap; and if the play went off side, he was caught backpedaling and wasn’t able to pursue.
As a pass rusher, Hubbard is impressive when he has the opportunity to cut loose. He’s got a nice outside rip, dips his shoulder and understands the concept of using leverage to turn corner. But he’s also able to come off the ball, extend his arms and after a quick step out, swim back inside and use that quickness to split the tackle and guard.
The Alabama scheme was Hubbard’s worst enemy some weeks, but I won’t put it all on gameplan. There were plays where Hubbard hesitated at the snap, didn’t come off hard and let the offensive lineman take away his leverage and he was done. I still believe this is less about what he can do, and more about what he thinks he can do.
It’s impossible to measure confidence in a player on a given play, but I want to see more intensity from him. I see a lot of comparisons between Hubbard and former first-round pick Dion Jordan. The key differences between the two are that Hubbard is more physically imposing, but Jordan’s motor and overall athleticism is much higher.
That’s not to say Hubbard can’t be great, because I think he can. He’s smooth on some plays coming off the edge with deceptive speed, but for all the potential he has, I want to see more production to feel comfortable at making him a top pick. If Alabama turns Hubbard loose this year, he could be one of the best pass rushers in all of college football.
2014 NFL Draft Projection — First Round (top-20 pick)
Games Reviewed — vs. Michigan (2012), vs. Western Kentucky (2012), vs. Missouri(2012), vs. LSU (2012), vs. Georgia (2012), vs. Notre Dame (2013)