Film Room: Chris Hubbard Boosting Future Earnings

Let me just put it this way: Chris Hubbard is going to be a starting right tackle, or maybe even guard, for some team next season, and the only way it’s going to be the Pittsburgh Steelers is if something happens to Marcus Gilbert prior to free agency.

Considering the general dearth of talent along the offensive line coming out of college these days, especially out of the tackle position, there is going to be a team in need of a tackle who is going to pay Hubbard enough to start rather than returning to Pittsburgh to be a backup.

Having strong performances in primetime against teams with a good pass rush will only improve his stock, and that is what he did against the Ravens. Take, for example, this late first-quarter rep in pass protection.

The right guard catches Carl Davis off-guard with an aggressive punch in pass protection, which contributes to the lineman losing his footing trying to come off the edge. The more reps he’s gotten, the more comfortable he’s become taking a more proactive approach in pass protection, though it at times has left him open for an inside counter.

It was Davis again feeling the brunt of his more aggressive style of play he has exhibited in recent weeks, though this time it came in a goal-line situation. Hubbard won the initial point of attack and was able to get the lineman turned, and eventually even on the ground.

Still later in the quarter, with time running out, his pass protection against Terrell Suggs helped Ben Roethlisberger convert a third and 15 to Eli Rogers. While the right tackle gave ground, he kept his feet chopping and his arms in control of the rusher’s base until deep into the play.

A play or two later is an example of what I alluded to earlier: susceptibility to an inside move. But Hubbard has also been able to recover well, as he does here, riding rookie Tyus Bowser through the pocket and out of harm’s way.

He had a greeting as well for the Raven’s other rookie edge rusher, Tim Williams, who once setting his feet upfield trying to hold the edge against the run was instead driven upfield, only managing to spin away to fall to the ground.

Bowser did get a sack on Roethlisberger against Hubbard, but it was the quarterback at fault, being taken down about five seconds into the play, on first down no less. Suggs also got free on an inside counter that, in conjunction with a defensive back blitz, led to the sack that opened the game-winning drive, but multiple failures led to that result.

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