Doyel: Colts will draft Bradley Chubb. But only if we’re lucky.
INDIANAPOLIS – With the third overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft, the Indianapolis Colts will take North Carolina State defensive end Bradley Chubb. But only if we’re lucky.
And here, I’m not talking as a fan of the Colts — but as a fan of fun. Remember when Colts football was fun? Winning some more games would help that, sure, but so would adding to the locker room a personality like this guy, the class clown of this draft class, someone whose 2017 highlight reel includes some self-inflicted bloopers.
Who is Bradley Chubb? The goofball who flopped theatrically near the end zone in September against Syracuse and kept thrashing and rolling — he’s at the 2-yard line, the 1 ... — until he was in the end zone, where he rose with a smile wrapped around his mouth guard.
Who is Chubb? A pest, a guy who snatched the towel off the waist of Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant like this was flag football or something, just doing it for fun — until he sees the quarterback is starting to get bothered by it. And then he keeps doing it until the referee scolds him to stop. Chubb responds by nodding solemnly and reaching for the referee’s hand, which he gives a good and proper handshake.
Yes indeed, with the No. 3 pick in the 2018 NFL draft, the Colts will take Bradley Chubb. But only if we’re lucky.
And here I’m talking as someone as invested in the success of the Colts as everyone else in town, albeit in a different way. You want the Colts to succeed because you love them. I want the Colts to succeed … because you love them. Happy fans read Colts stories in the newspaper. Depressed fans do not. Is Chubb good enough to make this 4-12 disaster of 2017 a playoff team in 2018? By himself, no. Of course not. Only a great quarterback can have that kind of one-person impact, as No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck showed in 2012 and might show again in a few months.
But Chubb is a great place for the Colts to start in the 2018 draft. There are other places, sure. Penn State running back Saquon Barkley looks to have the freak size and explosion of Adrian Peterson, only he’s bigger and more explosive. What NFL running back in my lifetime was heavier and more explosive than Adrian Peterson? I can think of two: Herschel Walker and Bo Jackson. If Barkley fits somewhere on that continuum, somewhere between Herschel/Bo and Peterson, well, mercy. That’s a fine place for the Colts to start their rebuild.
But the Colts pick third, not first. Barkley will be off the board. Which means the Colts need another plan, and I’m telling you: Bradley Chubb looks like a home run.
That’s the kind of sentence — Bradley Chubb looks like a home run — that Google will never forget. There are people in this world whose sole job is to set aside stories with sentences like that one, and then to show the world just how stupid so-and-so was back in the year 2018 when he wrote, and I quote, “Bradley Chubb looks like a home run.”
But I’m saying it, because he does: as a player, and as a personality, and there’s more of that personality to discuss in a minute. But first, let’s talk about the player, and here we’ll talk about the dichotomy of Bradley Chubb, because he really is two different guys. On the one hand, yes, he’s the goofball who doesn’t take football too seriously.
On the other hand? He can’t take football seriously enough. Who is Bradley Chubb? You’re asking the wrong question. Try: Who was Bradley Chubb?
The No. 734-ranked player in the 2014 high school senior class.
Think about that. This guy went from No. 734 to potentially No. 3, if we’re lucky, and he did it in four years. How did he do it? Another good question, and the easiest answer is this one:
Because that’s how seriously he takes football.
When he committed to N.C. State in 2013, Chubb was a 205-pound outside linebacker from Powder Springs, Ga., a high school junior. Ravenous, figuratively, this guy spent the next year in his uncle’s weight room. Ravenous, literally, Chubb ate his way to 225 pounds by the time he got to N.C. State a year later, and he just kept going. Soon he was 275 pounds and playing defensive end and doing it so well that he was second in the country in 2017 with 26 tackles for loss, and tops in the ACC with 10 sacks.
And no, that wasn’t good enough.
So two months ago Chubb left N.C. State, where he supplanted 2006 No. 1 overall pick Mario Williams as the school’s career leader in sacks (26) and tackles for loss (60), to train at EXOS Performance in San Diego, the pre-draft workout center of the stars. Last winter half the first round (16 of the NFL’s top 32 picks in 2017) and damn near one-third of the whole draft (84 eventual draft picks) trained at EXOS, where Chubb went this winter in search of more. And he got it. More muscle, more explosion. He showed up in San Diego weighing 270 pounds, with 20 percent body fat, and left with his body fat cut nearly in half, down to 10 or 11 percent. But at nearly the same weight (269 pounds).
In other words: The Bradley Chubb of today would physically dominate the Bradley Chubb of four months ago, and four months ago Bradley Chubb won the 2017 Bronko Nagurski Trophy, given to the country’s top defensive player.
He’s a goofball, though. After the Wolfpack went on the road in 2016 to beat North Carolina, Chubb trotted off the field with a branch from Kenan Stadium’s iconic hedge wedged in his mouth. A staffer at N.C. State texted me this week that Chubb "is a character, nothing mean, just spirited. A little Eddie Haskell in him. LOVES football. More to him than just a job to do. He will make you smile."
Could a character like this go too far? Sure he could. Well, he did. After recording two sacks and forcing a fumble when the Wolfpack won at Florida State in September, Chubb raced to midfield and spit on the FSU logo. Hey, you take the good with the bad. And Chubb apologized for that bit of bad.
But the good is so good, and Chubb is driven by fierce family pride in a surname that resonates all over football and has echoes to the antebellum South. His father, Aaron, was a starting defensive lineman at Georgia and a 12th-round draft pick of New England in 1989. His older brother, Brandon, was an All-ACC linebacker at Wake Forest. His cousin, Nick Chubb, just finished his career at Georgia as the No. 2 rusher in SEC history (4,769 yards, behind only Herschel Walker and three spots ahead of Bo Jackson, if you can believe that).
And not one of those Chubbs is as historically impressive as the eight Chubb men who founded a pre-Civil War colony of free blacks in western Georgia, about five miles from the Alabama border. Chubbtown, the settlement was called, and the settlement was left alone as the Union army marched past in 1864. Though the area is now known as Cave Spring, Ga., the original name lives on: Chubb Methodist Episcopal Church on Chubbtown Road is in the National Register of Historic Places.
“It means the world to me,” Bradley Chubb said of Chubbtown. “My grandfather is buried there. … The last name Chubb is definitely something I wear with pride.”
Pretty soon he’ll wear it on the back of an NFL jersey. If this town’s lucky, there’ll be a horseshoe on it too.
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