I know it's way too early to start jumping into the 2018 mock drafts, but I still find it interesting to see who people are predicting the Dallas Cowboys will draft approximately a year from now. That is why I thought I would go ahead and share with you Matt Miller's 2018 mock draft and the talented defensive end he predicts the Dallas Cowboys will select.
In Miller's 2018 mock draft, he has a Dallas Cowboys slotted at the 26th spot in the first-round, and he has predicted they will draft defensive end Sam Hubbard, out of Ohio State. Below is his assessment of the Sam Hubbard selection for the Cowboys.
“Drafting a defensive end without any in the off-field issues would be an upgrade for the Dallas Cowboys. Selecting one with the power and technique of Sam Hubbard would give them a legitimate rookie starter.
The 6'5″, 265-pounder might not test exceptionally well for an edge-rusher, but his strength and ability to shoot through or around blockers at the line to make splash plays against the run and pass make him interesting as a weak- or strong-side defensive end.
The Cowboys have played loose with character-flag players, and the defensive line is paying for it now. Adding a high-character, high-impact defensive end should be a no-brainer.”
Matt Miller certainly makes Sam Hubbard sound like he would be an upgrade at the defensive end position for the Dallas Cowboys. It is certainly a position of need, even though they invested in a first-round DE (Taco Charlton) in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Now, I'm not one to disbelieve anything Matt Miller says about an NFL prospect, especially since he's one of my favorite draft analyst, but I wanted to see how Sam Hubbard performed for myself. The only thing I really know about Hubbard is he plays at Ohio State, so I decided to watch the few games of his available @draftbreakdown.com. You're more than welcome to head there yourself, but I thought I would share with you a few plays of Hubbard's that caught my eye.
One of the main things rookie defensive ends struggle with in the NFL is holding up against the run. In the video above you see Sam Hubbard use proper technique and his strength to control the offensive tackle while working down the line to take down the RB in the open field for a tackle for a loss.
This may look like a routine play, but DEs have to be able to set a strong edge in the NFL if they want to get on the field. This is an area of Hubbard's game where he excels and it could earn him a starting role as a rookie.
The next play I want to share with you is how he remains disciplined and once again uses proper technique to make a play behind the line of scrimmage.
You may notice that in this video Jabrill Peppers is lined up at QB in the wildcat formation. It is a read option play were Peppers is watching to see what Sam Hubbard does at the DE position. Hubbard plays this play perfectly.
Hubbard keeps his shoulder squared to the line of scrimmage and slow plays Peppers, which isn't easy to do because Peppers is one of the more dynamic players with the ball in his hands. Hubbard however uses proper technique and discipline in order to work down the line of scrimmage and get just enough of Peppers to get the tackle for a loss.
These first two videos are proof of why Sam Hubbard will likely get on the field early as a rookie and how he could help the Dallas Cowboys, but I know most of you are concerned with whether or not he can get after the QB. Well, he does have 10 QB sacks so far in his career at Ohio State, 6.5 in 2015 and 3.5 and 2016.
In the games I watched, he is typically a step or even a half step away from taking down the QB, but he does show promise. He has a limited pass rushing repertoire, but most incoming rookie pass rushers do.
In the video above, you see exactly what I mean about Hubbard being just a step away from getting the QB sack. He does an excellent job of quickly getting up the field at the snap of the ball and not allowing the offensive tackle to get his hands on him. But, the lack of natural bend didn't allow him to get to the QB before he got rid of the ball.
Sam Hubbard's lack of bend and press rushing repertoire are a work in process, but he has the natural gifts to work with. I believe defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli would love a player like Hubbard and could do wonders developing his natural ability.
Overall, I think this is a good solid pick for the Dallas Cowboys and agree with Matt Miller that Sam Hubbard would be an upgrade at the DE position. The 2018 NFL Draft is still a long ways away, so we don't really know who will be available or where, but it's still fun to speculate.