Chris Hubbard ‘The Most Complete’ OL In The League According To Villanueva

I’m not sure quite how respected he is just yet, but compared to even a year ago, there are certainly a lot more people in Chris Hubbard’s corner these days. The fourth-year offensive lineman has essentially become the Pittsburgh Steelers’ sixth offensive lineman, something of a Trai Essex 2.0, capable of playing every position.

Not just capable of it, of course, but also having actually done it. Just during the preseason, he logged 11 snaps at center with another 46 coming at left tackle, wrapping things up with 16 more snaps at right tackle.

Just this Sunday, he logged snaps at both left and right tackle and as a tackle-eligible, which became a key role for him last season, where he logged 122 snaps during the regular season. He also logged 208 snaps at right tackle over four games due to Marcus Gilbert’s injury, and even saw four snaps at center.

In previous preseasons, the Steelers have run Hubbard extensively at all three interior offensive line positions as well, though with B.J. Finney around as the top interior reserve, he has largely focused his attention to playing on the perimeter. Not that his teammates don’t see and appreciate his versatility across many positions.

In fact, Alejandro Villanueva called him “the most complete offensive lineman in the NFL”, according to Joe Rutter. “The most impressive thing about him is he can carry through a lot of skill through each position. He’s a very knowledgeable player. He sees every block, he’s very fundamental, and that’s what makes him a plug-and-play sort of player”.

The Steelers plugged him into the starting lineup for three games last year, and they may have to do so again on Sunday should a hamstring injury that Gilbert is currently dealing with not perk up by the end of the week. Hubbard conceded that he is preparing this week as though he is going to start, having worked with the first-team line.

He told Rutter that his film study is more extensive than most linemen’s because of the number of positions that he prepares himself for. “I try to prepare myself for everything”, he said.

“I scout the whole line. I could be playing tight end, I might have to play guard or tackle, or maybe even center, so I try to watch as much of the defensive line as possible”.

Hubbard has been around for a long time now. Originally signed as an undrafted free agent in 2013, he spent his rookie season on the practice squad before making the 53-man roster in 2014, where he saw just a couple of snaps at the end of a blowout victory.

He got a couple dozen snaps as a tackle-eligible the following year, and had to fill in for a handful of snaps at left tackle during a game in which Villanueva briefly left, but his most extensive playing time by far occurred last year. On Sunday, he saw 21 snaps at left tackle, 15 at right, and five more at tight end. I’ll have a look at his showing tomorrow during a film session.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi
Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • Xi37

    Grimble, “most complete tight end in the league.”

  • george

    So Hubbard is a FA next year?

  • Rotten Sircus

    Great steal for Colbert & company ..

  • I hope he’s betteer than Trai Essex!

  • John Noh

    Jack of all trades, master of none. He’s not the hot mess he was two seasons ago, I’ll give him that.

  • John Noh

    Yes, UFA

  • Awfully hyperbolic of AV. When Tomlin said he had “presidential qualities” maybe he had the inside track on his mad pandering skills.

  • Jason Vancil

    Ale went on to say that Jordan Dangerfield is the best Safety since Ronnie Lott.

  • Lee Foo Young

    I wonder if they’ll be able to resign him after this year? He may want want to go somewhere to try to start?

  • Michael Mosgrove

    He doesn’t impress me and never has. He’s horrid at center, he is average at guard, he’s weak at left tackle and average at right tackle.but the team likes him, which is why he is still here. Rendering my opinion moot.

  • LucasY59

    I still think it should be Villanueva as the tackle eligible when they add an extra OL, have Hubbard line up between AV and Foster, I think AV is better on the edge and is also more of a threat if they use him to run a route (since the 6th OL is eligible) I dont think they should force a trick play to Al, but if they line him up there and run it most of the time it would be more of a surprise to have him catch a pass

  • NimbusHex

    Ahh yes, Trai Essex, the perpetual answer to the question “who was that holding penalty on?”.

  • Matthew Marczi

    He’s not saying he’s the best. He’s saying he is the most versatile. I don’t think there are too many players in the league who can comfortably play six different roles.

  • I get that. My comment is meant to be mostly humor.

    However (comma) Max Unger comes to mind as someone likely to be better and equally complete. There are 300ish OL players in the NFL. IMO it’s hyberbolic praise for AV to randomly render a league-wide assessment in favor of his own backup.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Honestly, I think it might have more to do with what I assume to be a relatively limited knowledge of what else is going on around the league. But it’s hard to be more versatile than a guy who can play six positions. Maybe he’ll catch a pass or two this week.

  • Rocksolid20

    AV has been hit in the head too many times .

  • Rocksolid20

    If you use the same logic Bell used in his values , Hubbard
    would be due a great amount of money .

  • Rocksolid20

    Decastro gets his share of holdings also .

  • dany

    and false starts- Willie Colon