Alex Chassen, co-managing editor of SB Nation’s OSU site, Land-Grant Holy Land, already told us all about Bengals first round pick Billy Price. And now she returns to discuss the defensive end who took over in Columbus for 2016 first round draft pick and current Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa.
Hubbard played three years at OSU and accumulated 116 tackles, 30.0 tackles for loss, 17.0 sacks, 1 interception, 3 passes defensed, 1 fumble recovery and 3 forced fumbles in that span. He was expected to be a second round pick in this year’s draft, but the Bengals ended up grabbing him in the middle of Round 3.
Let’s get to the questions!
Rebecca Toback: What do you think about the Bengals’ addition of Sam Hubbard in Round 3 of the draft?
Alexis Chassen: I think the Bengals got a steal taking Hubbard in the third. Not only did they get an almost instant contributor for the team’s defense, but they also got a local guy -- Hubbard played for Mueller in Cincinnati during high school. It seems like the Bengals went Ohio-native heavy during their draft, which typically helps drum up support for a team that’s had a few downs years. Re-building around local guys creates a deeper sense of community among the team and fans, and Hubbard -- along with Northern-Ohio natives, first round pick Billy Price and UDFA Chris Worley -- should be a good starting point.
RT: What was Hubbard known for off-the-field during his time at OSU?
AC: I’m sure you’ve heard by now that Hubbard was an elite high school lacrosse player. It was one of the oft-written storylines for the Buckeye throughout the draft process, but it goes a little further than him just being a former lacrosse player. Hubbard had actually committed to playing LAX at Notre Dame following high school, but after Urban Meyer came through on a recruiting visit, the Buckeye head coach set his sights on flipping Hubbard from a future lacrosse player to a future football star -- and it worked.
(Editor’s note: Marvin Lewis actually helped Meyer recruit Hubbard to OSU by telling him he’d have a chance to go on to play for the Bengals after college. Turns out, that’s exactly what happened.)
RT: What do you see as some of his strengths?
AC: Hubbard’s versatility and general athleticism should give him an extra edge as he makes the transition to the pros. He played safety on his high school football team -- in addition to his dual-sport effort in lacrosse -- before being moved all over the defensive line at Ohio State. He’s shown that he’s able to learn quickly and step into a role with little experience, and still be successful. He’s naturally aggressive and is quick off the line. He should be able to contribute his rookie season for Cincinnati.
RT: How about any weaknesses?
AC: Similar to his strengths, Hubbard’s ability to move around to different positions lends to the old moniker “Jack of all trades, master of none.” It’s too early to say whether or not Hubbard will have a hard time making a career as an edge defender, but he’s got a few solid years of experience under his belt. He’s not exactly a finished product, but with some additional development could be a very technique-driven workhorse who the team will enjoy having around the complex for years to come.
RT: Did you expect Hubbard to be drafted sooner than pick No. 77 in Round 3? If yes, what do you think contributed to his fall?
AC: I don’t think there was any one thing that contributed to his fall, but there was a run on offensive players early on in the draft, and then the attention turned to secondary players before the defensive ends and linemen started being taken. Granted there were a few off the board early, but for the most part, Hubbard’s fall was a product of priority established as the rounds went on.
RT: Hubbard replaced Joey Bosa in the starting lineup at OSU once Bosa was drafted by the Chargers. What was the drop off like (if any) going from Bosa to Hubbard?
AC: Filling in for Joey Bosa was one of the toughest challenges that Hubbard could be asked to undertake. Fortunately, the rest of Ohio State’s defense was pretty deep, and allowed for rotating talent to help fill the void. Hubbard didn’t crack under pressure though and finished the 2016 season with 46 total tackles (8.5 for loss) and 3.5 sacks.
Not one to leave well-enough alone, he came back for his junior season and absolutely demolished opposing offenses, recording 42 total tackles (13.5 for loss) and 7.0 sacks -- a career-high in QB take-downs. He finished his last season in Columbus ranked among the top 10 in three different Big Ten categories: tackles for loss (No. 6), sacks (No. 6), forced fumbles (No. 7). He earned the most snaps among rotating players last season, and he earned each and every one of those.
Thanks so much to Alexis for double-dipping and answering our questions on both Price and Hubbard!