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Broncos roster review: Edge Bradley Chubb

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Can he bounce back in 2020?

Jacksonville Jaguars v Denver Broncos
Is a big year coming for the Broncos’ third year pass rusher?
Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

“He’s there every day with a great attitude and a great work ethic, and I’ll be shocked if he’s not as good as new when you guys see him again.”

It feels like a lifetime ago that Vic Fangio said those words at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. What’s happened between now and then has almost made it too easy to forget the fifth overall pick from the 2018 NFL Draft.

Let there be no doubt, few players on the roster can have as big an impact on the Broncos’ 2020 season.

If Bradley Chubb can breakout in year three, the Broncos' defense should emerge as one of the best in football.
If Bradley Chubb can breakout in year three, the Broncos’ defense should emerge as one of the best in football.

Bradley Chubb’s profile

Height: 6-foot-4

Weight: 269 pounds

Age: 24 years old

Experience: 3

The Good

This time last year I was talking to Aaron Schatz and Bryan Knowles of Football Outsiders about the fact that Bradley Chubb had a historically great rookie season. While his raw sack total was down during the first four games of last season, he was still a threatening pass rusher who demanded plenty of attention.

His ability to convert speed to power paired with Jurrell Casey’s lateral mobility should give Fangio a whole new slew of options for maximizing the pass rush this season.

Even when Chubb didn't rush, he occupied blockers.
Even when Chubb didn’t rush, he occupied blockers.

The Bad

His second season came to a crashing halt after four games thanks to a torn ACL in his left knee. As it is the second time Chubb has injured his left knee, it does become a bit of a long term concern.

The Broncos’ defense improved against the run after Chubb was hurt. While a large part of that is due to the emergence of Alexander Johnson, Mike Purcell and role changes for Shelby Harris and Kareem Jackson, questions remain about the third-year pass rusher. Chubb’s run defense was up and down his rookie year and he still needs to improve as the force player and at the point of attack.

It would be huge if Chubb can improve as a run defender.
It would be huge if Chubb can improve as a run defender.

What they said

“He’s tailor-made for us. I think he’ll take the next step just because he’s a pro, much like Phillip already. He’s a very smart football player, very coachable, very intense. I see nothing but bright days ahead for him.”-Vic Fangio

One reason the rookie edge rusher’s pass rushing has exceeded my greatest hopes bears out on his 2018 tape. There are a few areas where he immediately catches your eye, but the first is definitely his burst off the line. It’s very good and allows him to immediately threaten most tackles outside the shoulder. This is a big reason why he was so effective at generating pressure on the quarterback a year ago: time after time, he caught offensive tackles leaning to protect the outside, attacked their inside shoulder, and converted speed to power in order to disrupt the QB.

Another area where Chubb really impressed me last year is his hands and repertoire of moves. He has 34” arms and is good at using them to keep his body clean against most opponents. Most rookie pass rushers will bring a move, maybe two, that they can effectively use against professional blockers. I saw an effective long arm, swim, bull, and rip from Chubb. You see hints of DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller’s influence in his game, which is really encouraging. Then you combine that with the fact that he just attended Von’s 3rd annual pass rush summit, the arrow here is definitely pointing up.

There are a number of areas I hope to see Chubb improve at in year three. His ability to play in space and work as the force player could still use work from when we saw him last, but I remain cautiously optimistic that Vic Fangio will have an elite pair of edge rushers, so long as there’s a 2020 season.

Bradley Chubb’s roster status with the Broncos

So long as he’s healthy, Chubb will resume his duties as the Broncos’ starting edge rusher across from Von Miller. Barring any setbacks, I expect them to regain their status as one of the best edge duos in all of the NFL.