Welcome to Hindsight is 20/20. Here we will review our old evaluations. We will highlight what we got right and what we missed. All with the intention of becoming better scouts in the future. Revisiting old evaluations once a player has a large enough sample size is critical to avoid repetitive mistakes. Sometimes you know your wrong on a player after a single training camp practice, other times it takes years to realize the accuracy of your evaluation. This is a critical point that only increases the importance of being able to evaluate the tape, write up a proper report, and speak on who a player is. Learn these skills by signing up with Elite Scout School.
RB #27 Nick Chubb, GAUN, 2018
Date of Report:
SR. Aligns at RB for GAUN. Potential capable/win-with starter. Rocked up build. Strong RB who combines efficient feet with exceptional contact balance and a grind-it-out running style to maximize available production. Not ultra-twitchy or bursty but enough to be very effective. As a runner, he’s good. Tough, blue-collar approach. Stays square as he attacks the LOS. Jump cuts and utilizes efficient feet to alter path. Thick, strong lower half combined with low pad level leads to rare contact balance. Bounces off would-be tacklers. Preference for inside running. He leaves some bounce opportunities on the field. Vision is good. Patient enough to allow lanes to develop and chooses appropriately. Always moving vertically to grind out yardage. If nothing’s available, he sticks his nose in the trash. Not a MYM back. One cut runner who attacks defenders outer third to break tackles. Lacks elite speed after knee injury. However, builds speed and can rumble for significant yardage. As a receiver, he’s sufficient. Limited exposure. Only 4 catches in 2017. Limited route tree. Lacks elite wiggle at the top. Not a true pass-catching threat. In pass pro, he’s average. Sifts/identifies well. Lacks ideal pop and maintains a passive approach.
Year 1 Role
Rotational back year 1. Needs to develop in the passing game but has shown flashes of catching ability.
Long Term Role
Potential capable starter long term. Can develop into a true bell cow. I expect production at the next level. Not elite traits or tools but he will produce.
Tough RB w/ rare strength & contact balance. Good vision. Avg hands + pass pro.
"Potential Capable Starter"
What I Got Right
In the case of Chubb, everything positive within the report he has either matched or exceeded so I’m not sure I deserve too much credit. He does have efficient feet and rare contact balance. He does consistently maximize available production. He’s tough and blue-collar. He is consistently square and on balance. His strength is excellent, his power is very good. The overall style is fairly accurate but the traits themselves, I significantly understated.
What I Got Wrong
Just about everyone in the league is kicking themselves for not having selected Nick Chubb. Some more than others. Imagine the praise Dave Gettleman would have received had he, instead of selecting Saquon Barkley at two (a rare talent at the top of my board in 2018), drafted QB Josh Allen and selected Chubb with the 33rd overall selection. That is truly 20/20 vision in hindsight. The teams that deserve a little regret are the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks who selected Sony Michel and Rashaad Penny, respectively (in the first round). For the sake of honesty, I didn’t totally blame them at the time. I had 5 RB’s in front of Chubb on my big board, including Michel (I gave Penny and Chubb the same exact grade). Although, and let me state clearly, I firmly believe that a RB in the first is not a wise investment. The 2018 RB class was considered loaded, all the more reason to not select one in round 1. I liked Chubb, but in hindsight, I didn’t like him nearly enough. He has turned into a star, and arguably the best back in football (Henry has a serious case after his 2K season).
So, what did I get wrong? Well, the short answer is a lot. To be somewhat fair to me, the chatter around the league was that Nick Chubb never fully regained the explosiveness that he had prior to suffering a gruesome knee injury vs the University of Tennessee in October 2015. There was a ton to like about the player but I had a fellow scout say “if only he had the same explosiveness and speed that he showed his freshman season”, I agreed. Scouts thought he might never be the same player he was. Boy, were we wrong! The impressive performance he put up at the combine should have been an indication to me that he had, in fact, begun to regain that explosiveness. However, that excuse doesn’t work for me because I wrote him up after the combine. As it turns out, his speed is above average, his acceleration is good, his vision is rare, his elusiveness is better than I anticipated, and his quickness too. He is beyond what I thought he could be. He is rare. I should be faulted for the things I could have seen, but there are some things I couldn’t. His lack of receiving production was a concern and continued to be a concern when watching him attempt to catch the football in camp. Hands are a trait that is rarely improved, yet he has improved them. His pass protection coming out of college was average, in my opinion, it is now bordering on great. He continues to sharpen his strengths and develop his “weaknesses”.
Takeaways for Future Evaluations
The key takeaway for me is the importance of knowing a player’s heart. What drives them to be great? What are they motivated by? In the case of Nick Chubb, he wants to be the very best version of Nick Chubb. I vividly remember a long-time NFL coach standing next to me at practice during Chubb’s first training camp and saying “see that kid right there (referring to Chubb), he is going to be special.” He was right. Chubb did/does everything the right way. From how he approaches lifting and meetings, to finishing every rep in practice in the endzone. Had I personally known about the character piece; he would have easily broken the tiebreaker over Rashaad Penny. This is why character is so critical and why area scouts are on the road 10 months out of the year to find out who these players are and what makes them tick. It is the intangible piece that is the cause of so many misses.