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Film Room: Sam Hubbard is a versatile weapon for the Bengals’ defense

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Sam Hubbard’s pass rush skills could be a big plus for the Bengals’ defense.

Maryland v Ohio State Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

The Bengals were more than happy to see Ohio State defensive lineman Sam Hubbard fall to the team in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft. The Cincinnati native was a top recruit as a safety coming out of high school and quickly developed into a skilled pass rusher in his time with the Buckeyes. Hubbard can do it all. He can play both the run and the pass as an end or an interior defensive lineman. He has also shown coverage ability on zone and man blitzes.

Hubbard had seven sacks last season and 17 during his three years with the Buckeyes. He was impressive in both testing and positional drills at the combine, but chose not to run the 40-yard dash. He ran the 40 at Ohio State’s pro day though, and posted an unimpressive 4.89 second time. This may have gotten into some scouts’ heads and been part of the reason Hubbard slipped, but this is not a measurement that really matters for defensive lineman. Hubbard has the athleticism and strength to be an impact player in the NFL and the skill to contribute in a number of ways.

Pass Rush

Hubbard (#6) gets off the ball with speed, as you can see in the below clip. He strikes on the offensive tackle and gets good extension. He is able to turn the tackle, opening up a lane to the quarterback. Hubbard should use a get off move to disengage, but despite the fact that he is being held, he managed to muscle his way through to the quarterback.

Here, Hubbard uses a club move to strike with his outside hand and open up his hips. This gets him past the offensive tackle and enables him to make the strip-sack.

In this clip, Hubbard gets off the ball with great speed and uses a rip move to defeat the tackle’s block. He demonstrates great bend as he rounds the corner and makes the sack.

Against Clemson, Hubbard sets up the tackle by pressuring him to the outside. He then stunts into the B gap inside of the tackle using a rip move to clear the block. The play results in a sack of now-Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson.

Below, Hubbard is aligned inside as the three technique on Notre Dame guard (and now Colts lineman) Quenton Nelson. Hubbard initially shows that he is going to cross Nelson’s face into the A Gap. He is able to get Nelson off balance as he strikes with his outside hand and then punches his inside hand across Nelson’s body to square his hips on his way to the sack. This is particularly impressive given that Nelson was seen by many as the top prospect in this year’s draft and perhaps the best guard prospect ever.

Hubbard’s athletic ability has been questioned, but here, he demonstrates his athleticism on a pass rush stunt. He sets on the tackle by showing a speed rush to the outside, then stutters his feet and stunts the A gap resulting in a sack. The move is so effective that it forces the tackle and guard to collide, allowing his partner in the stunt to get to the quarterback as well.

Run Defense

Hubbard is also a talented run defender. Here, the offensive tackle is attempting to block Hubbard to the inside. Hubbard fights across the blocker’s face, disengages, and makes the tackle.

Hubbard can hold the edge in the run game as well. In this clip, Hubbard fights off the reach block on the stretch play and makes a tackle for a loss.

Reactions

Hubbard makes great adjustments during the course of a play. Here, the Buckeyes are running a pass rush stunt twisting Hubbard to the inside. As he starts to loop in, he sees the guard releasing and recognizing the screen turns. As such, he gets a hit on the wide receiver coming in on the slip screen. This is a pretty impressive move for Hubbard, just beyond the line of scrimmage.

On this play, Hubbard quickly defeats the cut block of the offensive tackle on his way to the quarterback. As the quarterback tucks the ball and looks to get up field, Hubbard sticks a foot in the ground and quickly adjusts to make the tackle.

On this play Hubbard is the blitz/peal player. Essentially what this means is that he is to rush the quartback unless the running back releases on a route to his side. As the running back flares out, Hubbard quickly breaks off and makes a tackle for a loss.


Hubbard was an excellent value pick for the Bengals and gives the team a much needed additional pass rusher. Hubbard’s ability to play the run effectively and rush the passer from inside or outside will make him a valuable moving piece in Teryl Austin’s defense. He can play on any down and that will make him a key part of the Bengals’ evolving defense.