Nick Chubb is quietly becoming one of the NFL’s best running backs (PFN Film Room)

After a grotesque injury in his early college career, Nick Chubb fought his way back to relevancy. Just a few years later, he's nearly the NFL runner we anticipated from the beginning--if not better.

Nick Chubb has come a long way from a devastating injury during his second year at Georgia. The former all world five-start recruit was expected to come in and take the SEC by storm, and he did just that gaining 1,547 yards as a true freshman.

His dreams were nearly crushed during an early Heisman run his sophomore year in Georgia. The nasty leg injury had plenty of pundits in the media doubting whether he would ever return to form.

Chubb rushed for 2,475 yards to finish off his career at Georgia, and with every carry, we started to see the athletic freak that made him such a highly-touted recruit. While a first-round talent, his injury history led him to fall into the second round to the surging Cleveland Browns.

Chubb continues his return from injury in the NFL by having an outstanding rookie season. After Hue Jackson was fired in 2018, Chubb got his opportunity. He nearly passed 1,000 yards with 996 for the year, averaging 5.2 yards per carry. He’d also finish number one in the PFN OSM metric for the running back position and was part of the considerable buzz surrounding the Browns to start to the 2019 season.

This year got off to a slow start for Chubb with only 233 yards rushing and averaging 4.0 yards per carry through the first three weeks. However, this past Sunday, football fans saw what Chubb has in store for the rest of the league when he went for 165 yards, 8.25 yards per carry, and three touchdowns. The performance rose his OSM grade from under 10 to 16.11.

What makes Chubb so unique with the ball in his hands? Let’s dive into the film to see what stands out about his skill set.

Nick Chubb Excels in Zone Schemes.

Coming out of college, Chubb was one of the top zone running backs in the 2017 draft. When he was drafted, the Browns were a power run team under Todd Haley, but that all changed when Freddie Kitchens became the offensive coordinator. Chubb flourished, running the zone scheme, especially the outside zone.

What is a running back assignment on an outside zone? On outside zone plays, the running back aims for a point outside the tight-end, though he can cut it upfield wherever a seam appears. Chubb is excellent on the outside zone. He consistently makes correct decisions, and the right read for huge plays.

Chubb excels running the football out of the shotgun as well, averaging 4.6 yards per carry. Here he is against the Jets running an outside zone out of the shotgun. Chubb does an excellent job of staying patient and letting the blocks develop.

He then decisively hits the hole, getting skinny in the process. Chubb breaks a tackle to help him get extra yards and ends with a significant gain on the play.

Here against the Ravens, Chubb displays more of his decisiveness on this mid-zone concept. The mid-zone is compared to the outside zone a lot of times because of the way the lineman moves. However, the running back aiming point changes, and it helps open up cutback lanes.

Chubb reads this run play fast and sees the cut back lane before he gets the football from Baker Mayfield. Chubb hits the hole and forces four broken tackles and heads to the end zone for one of his three touchdowns on the day.

Nick Chubb Pure speed

One trait that people sleep on with Chubb is speed. Chubb was not considered a burner with the likes of Saquon Barkley. In his two NFL seasons, he has proven he has the long speed to take it to the house when he has a hole.

In this play, the Browns run a simple power toss to the right side of the formation. It is blocked up very well, with both guards pulling as well as the center. One of the Ravens linebackers overruns the play, opening up the hole for Chubb to run through.

Once he sees that crease, Chubb shows his burst and reaches a top speed of 21.95 MPH according to NFL Next Gen stats. Chubb takes it home for six and helps break the game open for the Browns.

Strong in the Passing Game

Chubb’s best-added element is his abilities as a pass-catcher. He helps his quarterback a lot, being able to turn check-downs into significant gains. The second-round pick is a good route runner as well being able to run routes down the field and spread out the defense with slants underneath.

Against the Jets, the Browns came out on in a five-wide set with Chubb at the top of the screen. It’s 1st-and-20, and the browns offense wants to get easy yards to make second down more manageable. The Jets will be showing cover one before the snap and then will switch to a cover six look against the offense.

Chubb runs a quick in route. He does a great job setting up the corner having him think he is going to sit on the route. Instead, he breaks inside, making an easy target for Mayfield for good yardage.


Nick Chubb is going to be a dynamic back for years to come, especially in a zone running scheme. His vision, patience, and mental processing allow him to dominate within this run design. His added ability as a pass-catcher makes him even more of a reliable three-down back and is part of the reason the Browns felt they could move on from Duke Johnson. Chubb is an excellent piece in this offense and a future superstar in the NFL.

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