Adrian Hubbard 2014 NFL Draft preseason scouting report

Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

An athletically gifted defensive player on Alabama's roster? You don't say.

Adrian Hubbard | 6'5, 260 pounds | Outside linebacker | Alabama | Junior (RS)

2012 Stats: 24 total tackles, 17 assisted, 11 tackles for loss, 7 sacks

Alabama is hoarding all of the nation's defensive talent. The Crimson Tide has been producing first-round picks at an alarming rate, and the defending National Champions will continue that trend in the 2014 draft with another influx of dominant defensive players.

Among the most interesting prospects to watch this fall is junior outside linebacker Adrian Hubbard. Flying under the radar a bit last season, Hubbard collected seven sacks and 11 tackles for loss while doing a variety of things for the Alabama defense.

The 2014 NFL Draft is ripe with pass rushers. Jadeveon Clowney is the runaway top prospect at the position, but after him it's wide open for the taking. Hubbard could be the one that emerges from the pack.

What he does well

Hubbard immediately has an advantage coming off the edge because of his frame. He's built to get after the quarterback with a long and lean frame. He's 6-feet-5-inches tall and carries 260 pounds well but has room to put on even more weight. Hubbard is a gifted athlete as well, showing a strong first step and burst off the line of scrimmage. In addition, Hubbard has the speed, balance and flexibility to turn the corner and get after the quarterback off the edge.

As a run defender, Hubbard was solid in 2012. He holds the point of attack well and plays with leverage. He has really long arms and understands how to use them to give himself space against offensive tackles. He's a powerful tackler with the closing speed to make plays in the backfield, as made evident by his 11 tackles for loss last season.

Hubbard is at his best with his hand in the ground due to his explosive first step. If he adds some weight to his frame, he could play defensive end in a 4-3 defense, though he presents the athletic versatility to play outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense as well. His coverage skills are adequate, and he's comfortable enough in space. That versatility wil intrigue a number of teams.

What he needs to improve on

A lot of Hubbard's shortcomings in 2012 seemed to be a result of what he was asked to do on defense. He was often playing contain, not being asked to pin his ears back and get after the quarterback. There were times where Hubbard's instincts and or motor could have been called into question during his redshirt sophomore season. Whether it was because he was slow to react or not playing with maximum effort, there were a few times in each game that I watched (Georgia, LSU, Notre Dame), that he seemed hesitant and left something to be desired. He has the closing speed and athletic ability to cover more ground than he did last season. Most of this would seem to be a matter of locating the football and developing the defensive instincts of knowing when to attack.

On a related note, Hubbard often ends up attacking offensive linemen while he was too upright. He's tall, but that's not much of an excuse because he often shows proper pad level and leverage. It's more of a consistency issue. Speaking to his effort and instincts is tough to do without being in the locker room, in the huddle or speaking to Hubbard, but there are some inconsistencies to his game.

Bottom line

Hubbard is an athletic player off the edge that has a chance to contribute in the NFL as a pass rusher. His schematic fit will be determined by how he develops this season both physically and mentally on and off the field. Alabama may feature him more in the defense this season and give him a chance to put up even more impressive numbers. His talent gives him a preseason first-round projection. That hinges on him continuing the upward trend in his development that he displayed a year ago.

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