N.C. State defensive end Bradley Chubb came into the NFL scouting combine as the top edge rusher prospect in the draft. Then he widened the gap. Darron Cummings AP
N.C. State defensive end Bradley Chubb came into the NFL scouting combine as the top edge rusher prospect in the draft. Then he widened the gap. Darron Cummings AP

Carolina Panthers

NFL draft’s best edge rusher was ranked 734th in high school. How he got here.

By Jourdan Rodrigue

jrodrigue@charlotteobserver.com

March 07, 2018 06:14 AM

If NFL teams ask which play most shows who N.C. State defensive end Bradley Chubb is, he has a ready answer for them.

“If you go back this past season and watch the Florida State game, there was a play where I ran down a couple of yards just to punch the ball out,” he said last week at the 2018 NFL scouting combine.

“If you watch the whole play, I was tied up with a guard and (the running back) hit my gap and I was like, ‘Man, that’s mine, I know that.’ I had to shed that guard real quick, turn around and find out where he was. He did a nice little spin move on the safety and I was like, ‘Man, I can’t let my dog go out like that.’ Went in, tomahawk-chopped it down and got the ball out for my team.”

That play, Chubb said, shows teams what they would get from him.

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“Just high-motor, high-energy, passionate, just a guy who’s going to get after their quarterback, get after the guy with the ball,” he said. “Whoever has the ball in their hands, I’m running down 50 yards down the field just to get that ball. ... Just a guy who’s going to play with a relentless motor.”

And a guy who has always known where he wants to be.

Chubb tested well enough at the combine to solidify what teams already know. He weighed in at 6-foot-4 and 269 pounds, telling reporters that he’d trimmed his body fat from 20 percent to 11 in the four months he’s been out of college.

He also pushed up 24 bench repetitions at 225 pounds, ran a 4.65-second 40-yard dash and had a 36-inch vertical jump.

Chubb was already considered the best edge rusher in this year’s draft and a potential top-10 pick. In Indianapolis, he put even more distance between himself and the rest of the class.

To Chubb, it felt like there was no other option.

Youthful motivation

He has been dreaming about where he wants to be for a long time – since he was an eighth-grader watching his older brother, Brandon, a former star linebacker at Wake Forest and current NFL free agent, work out in their uncle’s gym.

“I’m like, ‘man, if I want to go to the next level like he is, I’ve got to do something different,’” he said.

In high school, Chubb said he remembers thinking there was nothing better than hearing his name called over the PA system during a game for making a play.

That motivated him, too.

“I’d try to be all over the field, just try to make tackles to get my name called so I could walk through school and everybody would say, ‘Hey, good game,’” he said.

N.C. State defensive end Bradley Chubb (9) runs out onto the field after being introduced on senior day before the Wolfpack's game against UNC at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, N.C., Saturday, Nov. 25, 2017. Chubb may go as high as third overall in this year’s NFL Draft.
Ethan Hyman ehyman@newsobserver.com

At N.C. State, Chubb climbed his way up from the 734th-ranked high school player in the country in the 2014 recruiting class to the recipient of the Nagurski and Hendricks awards in 2017. Those are given to the best all-around defensive player and best defensive end in the country, respectively.

Now, he thinks he’s the best prospect in this draft.

Killer combo

He started his career at 205 pounds. Now, he’s at 270 where he strives to play, he said, like if someone took Denver’s Von Miller and Oakland’s Khalil Mack and molded them into one person.

That’ll send a shiver through a room of scouts.

Projections have Chubb going as high as No. 3 overall to Indianapolis, a team that needs a prolific edge-rusher and just switched to Chubb’s natural 4-3 defensive base.

Chubb knows it, too.

N.C. State defensive end Bradley Chubb could go as high as No. 3 overall in the NFL draft, to the Indianpolis Colts.
Gregory Payan AP

But his eyes are on the process of getting there, just like they were when he was trying to get his name yelled over the PA system in high school. Just like they were when he watched his brother working out. And just like they were when he was chasing down that Florida State running back.

“I always wanted to be in this position,” he said. “And for people to be talking about me going so high is definitely going to be something that I’ll look forward to and people have expectations.

“But the only thing I can do is stay true to myself and stay working as hard as I can.”

Jourdan Rodrigue: 704-358-5071, @jourdanrodrigue