The Green Bay Packers signed 12 undrafted free agents over the weekend, and added a new crop of young players to an already talented 2014 rookie class. The most notable name on the UFA list is Alabama outside linebacker Adrian Hubbard.
At 6-foot-6 and 257 pounds, Hubbard certainly has the ideal size to be an effective edge rusher in a 3-4 system. His long arms (34.5”) and frame allow him to hold the point of attack and shed blockers off the edge.
With a 4.69 forty time and 38.5-inch vertical, Hubbard also has the speed and athleticism to play well in space.
Hubbard was productive at linebacker in Alabama’s 3-4 defense. As a first-year starter in 2012, Hubbard recorded 41 tackles, 11 TFL, and seven sacks, demonstrating his ability to get after the passer.
Hubbard’s production dipped a bit in 2013 (33 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 3 sacks), which hurt his draft stock this spring, but an impressive showing at the NFL Combine still verified his natural ability to play linebacker at the next level.
Heading into the draft, many gave Hubbard a mid-round grade and believed the Alabama prospect was one of the better 3-4 outside linebackers in this class and possessed a ton of upside.
So why did teams pass on him when it came time to call his name?
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, teams were concerned about the condition of Hubbard’s heart after medical examinations at the combine showed a possible abnormality.
Prior to the draft, Hubbard got his heart checked out and was cleared medically by Doctor Charles Brown of the Piedmont Heart Institute in Atlanta. However, Hubbard told the press they had some issues notifying teams he was medically cleared before the draft.
“I think the big problem was somehow, some way the papers didn’t get to all the teams. But, oh well.”
Perhaps, teams weren’t willing to take the risk on a player with a possible serious medical condition.
“Situations happen. I wasn’t drafted. I’ll have to go a different route. Teams don’t want to take risks. They don’t want to write off on people.”
As an undrafted free agent, Hubbard posed less of a risk. Teams could bring him in and have their own physicians clear him to play. This way they could be certain of his playing condition and not risk using a draft pick on a player who may never see the field.
It makes you wonder where Hubbard would have been drafted if it weren’t for the concerns about his heart?
In the very least, the Packers have added a mid-round talent without spending pick, and may have even made the best roster move in the league since the draft came to a close on Saturday.
Virtually, the Packers got another fourth-round pick, and Hubbard has all of the measurables and talent to excel at outside linebacker in their system.
Many reliable scouts, like Tony Pauline of draftinsider.net, say Hubbard has tremendous upside and could develop into an excellent edge rusher in a 3-4 system, but the Alabama linebacker’s game remains rough around the edges and he’ll need time to develop in the NFL.
Hubbard brings size and athleticism to the Packers linebacking corps and may be the next example of the Packers finding terrific value in undrafted free agency.