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SR’s Fab 5 is a collection of inside scoop, analysis and insight from yours truly, PewterReport.com publisher and Bucs beat writer Scott Reynolds. Here are a few things that caught my attention this week at One Buc Place and around the NFL.
FAB 1. Chubb Would Help Bucs’ Pass Rush Woes
Meet North Carolina State defensive end Bradley Chubb.
He’s one of the best pass rushers in the country and he could be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ first-round pick in just six short months.
At 2-6, the Bucs would be slated for the fourth overall pick if the NFL Draft were held today. There’s no telling how many wins the Bucs will get over the second half of the season or where Tampa Bay will end up picking next April.
The guesses here are “not enough” and “picking inside the top 10.”
There will undoubtedly be a couple of quarterbacks that will go high inside the top 10. There always are, and that will benefit the Bucs by pushing some coveted players down a few spots. Perhaps Penn State’s do-it-all running back Saquon Barkley is on the clock at the same type Chubb is. No matter who winds up being the head coach or offensive play-caller next year, or who ends up as the general manager in Tampa Bay, this should be a no-brainer.
Because this is another draft full of very talented running backs, the pick should be the 6-foot-3, 275-pound Chubb all day long for the Bucs.
The four most important positions on a football team are as follows: quarterback, defensive end (someone to rush the passer), left tackle (someone to protect the quarterback) and cornerback (someone to shut down the quarterback).
Running back is not one of those four positions. Right now the Bucs’ most glaring need is at defensive end where the Bucs have a collective three sacks from the position in eight games. That’s pitiful.
After beginning his Wolfpack career at linebacker during his freshman season, Chubb, whose cousin, Nick, is a star running back at Georgia, moved to linebacker where he has lived in opposing backfields over the past three years, totaling 52.5 tackles for loss, 23.5 sacks, six forced fumbles, four passes defensed, one fumble recovery, one interception and one blocked kick.
After his sophomore year when he recorded 66 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, five sacks and two forced fumbles, N.C. State coach Dave Doeren encouraged Chubb to call Wolfpack legend Mario Williams, a defensive end that was drafted first overall in 2006 and ask him to wear his old No. 9 jersey. Williams gave Chubb his blessing and told him to “rep it well.”
Last year, Chubb, whose brother, Brandon, was a star linebacker at Wake Forest and now plays for the Detriot Lions, had a breakout season with 56 stops and 10 sacks. His 22 tackles for loss in a single season were second in Wolfpack history behind only Williams’ school-record 27.
This year as a senior, Chubb already has amassed 53 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks and a forced fumble with at least four games to go. Unlike Bucs designated run stopper Will Gholston and designated pass rusher Noah Spence, Chubb is equally adept at stuffing the run and rushing the passer.
He was a terror in N.C. State’s landmark 27-21 win at Florida State this year, collecting seven tackles, three tackles for loss, two sacks and a forced fumble. He notched eight stops, three tackles for loss and two sacks the next week in a win over Syracuse.
Two weeks ago against Notre Dame left tackle Mike McGlinchey, a potential first-round draft pick, Chubb had eight tackles, three tackles for a loss and a sack. Last year against McGlinchey, Chubb brutalized him for five tackles and three sacks in a 10-3 victory. Last week against Clemson left tackle Mitch Hyatt, who also draws first-round grades from NFL scouts, Chubb had eight tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss.
What makes Chubb the best defensive end in the 2018 draft class is his production, his blend of power and quickness and his non-stop motor. To quote ESPN’s David M. Hale in a story about Chubb, “Doeren calls Chubb ‘the catalyst,’ a title the Wolfpack defensive end isn’t quite comfortable repeating, but it’s a title he has earned. In the weight room, in the locker room, on the field – as Chubb goes, so goes N.C. State. And Chubb goes at only one speed.”
Wolfpack strength coach Dantonio Burnette said: “Chubb is the energy guy. He comes in with the juice.”
In N.C. State’s win over Florida State, ESPN play-by-play announcer Jason Benetti heaped praise on Chubb during the broadcast, saying, “Dave Doeren said, ‘Really nice kid off the field, not the nicest guy on the field.’”
ESPN color analyst Anthony Becht replied: “He used some real explicit terms to describe what kind of a guy he is on the field. That’s what you love about him. He’s going to shake your hand like a gentleman, but he’s going to come on the field and wreck havoc.”
The Bucs could use some havoc along the defensive line, especially at defensive end. And the entire team could use the edge that Chubb brings – an edge that has been missing in Tampa Bay since the days of Hardy Nickerson and Warren Sapp.
Chubb is a nasty dude.
After dominating Florida State, Chubb went over to the Seminoles logo after the game and spit on it. He was later told to apologize for it by the school, but I love his “take no prisoners” demeanor.
“We had to get over the hump, and that was the hump we talked about so much,” Chubb said after the win over FSU. “The emotions of being out on that field. I was just walking up and down and cheering my guys on. I knew for us to win, someone had to be that positive influence, and I wanted it to be me.”
Coming off a 7-6 season, expectations were high in Raleigh, N.C., and Chubb embraced them at the ACC Media Day prior to the start of the season.
“We want to be that team that you don’t want to play because you know we’re going to hit you hard in the mouth,” Chubb said.
So far N.C. State has a 6-3 record on the year heading into Saturday’s game at Boston College. Prior to the Wolfpack’s 38-31 loss against No. 4 Clemson last week, Chubb had the top Havoc Rate in the ACC on Football Study Hall, ahead of other notable defensive ends like Wake Forest’s Duke Ejiofor, Boston College’s Harold Landry and Clemson’s dynamic duo of Austin Bryant and Clelin Ferrell
“He’s the real deal, man,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said about Chubb during a conference call last week. “He’s long. He’s fast. He’s explosive. He plays with excellent technique. He’s a very knowledgeable, instinctive player.
This guy has got all the little nuances down. He understands what you’re trying to do offensively, so that allows him to anticipate. When you have the type of speed and skill and strength that he has, plus you have knowledge, you’re a tough guy to handle, which he is.”
During the loss to Clemson, Chubb went over to Tigers quarterback Kelly Bryant three times and stole his towel in an effort to mess with the young signal caller and get him off his game. I like a little psychological warfare, just as Sapp used to do by reading his opponents’ media guides for personal information that he was use against them in the trenches to get them rattled.
Sapp longs for the day when the Bucs have another dawg in the locker room.
“We called it ‘dawg’ in our locker room. D-A-W-G,” Sapp told the Tampa Bay Times this past summer. “I need a dawg in my locker room. I want somebody who bites.”
That someone may be Chubb next April.
A guy that swipes a quarterback’s towel during the game, and spits on the logo of a hated division rival?
You might call it unsportsmanlike, but I call it awesome, especially when Chubb produced 16 tackles, five tackles for loss, two sacks and a forced fumble in the Florida State and Clemson games combined. That’s the type of ruthless, ass-kicker the Bucs have been missing on defense.
They’ve also been missing sacks – desperately – this year, and Chubb is just two sacks away from tying Williams’ N.C. State record of 25.5. It’s early and the 2018 NFL Draft is six months away, but when the Bucs’ first draft board for next year comes out I would have Chubb’s name at or near the top.