Chuba Hubbard would have likely been a second-round draft pick, at minimum, had he decided to turn pro after an astounding 2019 season.
Instead, the Oklahoma State running back returned last year, and his stock dropped like a .com company in the 1990s.
“I wanted to win a championship, I wanted to get my degree and I wanted to mature,” said Hubbard, following his pro day on Thursday on why he returned for another year. “I feel I did a lot of that.
"Obviously, the one thing I wasn’t able to help my team do is win a championship. That’s something that will always be on my back. I hope at this next level whatever team decides to pick me up I can help them win a championship.”
That brings us to the Eagles.
There’s a running back that can be found in every round of the 2021 NFL Draft, and they need one.
It’s all well and good that Boston Scott signed his free-agent tender and will return, joining Miles Sanders in a backfield that wasn’t, shall we say, consistently dynamic in 2020.
Both runners had their moments, with Sanders hitting home runs three times with runs of 74 yards or longer and Scott showing his mettle against the New York Giants, as he usually does against them, with a dandy 19-yard TD catch to win a game in October.
It should be added that Sanders probably racks up a 1,000-yard rushing season had he not missed four games with injuries. As it was, he ended with 867 yards on the ground with six touchdowns.
That’s the point, though. He wasn’t able to hold up after being asked to carry the load and be a three-down back.
The Eagles need more and not just the cliche of a “big-down back who can pick up the tough yards on third-and-short.” In the spirit of competition being preached by head coach Nick Sirianni, bring one in who can push Sanders, one who can split reps with him.
My Eagles mock draft 2.0 has the Eagles taking North Carolina’s Javonte Williams in the second round.
If that's too rich, how about Hubbard, who grew up in Edmonton, Canada, maybe in the fourth round?
As a redshirt sophomore, he had the second-best individual rushing season in OSU history behind Barry Sanders, who rushed for 2,850 yards in 1988. Hubbard joined Sanders as the only OSU player to rush for 2,000 yards after leading the country with 2,094 yards and was named the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year and a unanimous All-American.
He had 21 touchdowns that year to go along with 23 catches for 198 yards in 13 games.
Then came 2020, a year plagued by a high ankle sprain that eventually shut him down for the final three games. In seven games, he had 625 yards and five scores with eight receptions for 52 yards.
“I think I’m one of the top running backs if not the top,” he said. “Obviously, this last year, people can say I had a down year. A lot of people don’t know I was coming off a lot of surgeries. There were a lot of different things going on with my body, my health.
“Wherever I get drafted, first round, seventh round, undrafted free agent, whatever happens, I just need a shot. I’ll be ready for it.
“Talking to teams, I’m a very raw player. That’s the way I look at it. I have a lot of things to work on. I feel I do a lot of things well, but I’m someone who’s not complacent; always trying to get better, always trying to get faster, stronger, work on my hands, work on my routes, pass protection all of these things. I have a lot of room to grow.”
At his pro day, Hubbard measured 6-foot, 210 pounds, ran a 4.5 with a 36-0 vertical, a 10-0 broad jump, and 20 reps on the bench.
One area in which Hubbard says he has grown is off the field.
Last June, he was outraged after his coach, Mike Gundy, was seen on social media wearing a One America News Network (OANN) shirt on a fishing trip. The nation was in the midst of civil unrest over the murder of George Floyd and Hubbard wasn’t happy his coach was wearing a shirt emblazoned with the initials of a far right-wing cable channel.
Hubbard tweeted at the time:
"I will not stand for this. This is completely insensitive to everything going on in society, and it's unacceptable. I will not be doing anything with Oklahoma State until things CHANGE."
Hubbard eventually mended things with Gundy.
“At end of the day, I’m Chuba, that’s someone who will stand up for what’s right,” he said last week. “I’m going to speak up when I think something’s wrong. I look at myself as a leader, not just on the football field but off the football field. So, whenever I’m called to do something or I need to speak up on something, I’ll do that.
“That being said, I make mistakes, I learn from them. I’m a young man, I’m still growing in a lot of different ways. Like I said, I make mistakes, but I do things well as well. The big thing is I always learn from my mistakes, I always learn from my greatest success. I’m still a growing leader, I’m still working on a lot of things, but when it comes to that aspect, I think it’s a good attribute to have.”
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s EagleMaven. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.
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