DENVER — On the night John Elway selected Bradley Chubb with the fifth-overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, he brushed off concerns that the Broncos could have too many top-notch players at outside linebacker.
“You can never have enough pass rushers,” Elway said. “He’ll be a great addition to the ones we already have, and so we’ll see if we can get after that quarterback a little bit.”
That same evening, Elway also said he expected Chubb to compete right away for playing time.
Just over six weeks later, Elway’s comments have turned out to be quite prescient.
As Shane Ray battles another wrist injury, Chubb must meet expectations alongside Von Miller. If he does, Elway’s decision to select the best player available may also fulfill a newfound need.
“I know Shane’s going to do everything to get back as fast as he can,” Chubb said Monday. “And when he gets back, we’re going to definitely need him. If that causes me to step up or … into a certain role, I’ll be prepared for it.”
An increased number of first-team repetitions should help Chubb as he aims to prepare for the regular season. Alongside the ones, Chubb said, is where his mental understanding of the game increases most.
In college, Chubb said he often had a set assignment before a play that was independent of anything that might occur pre- or post-snap. In his short time in the NFL, though, Chubb has learned that he must be ready for a series of outcomes that could be affected by any number of variables.
And when he’s out on the field with the first-team defense, he better know all of his potential responsibilities.
"When the game is so much faster by being with the vets and being with the guys who have been doing it for eight to 10 years, you have to have a sense of urgency,” Chubb said. “When I take reps with the ones, I feel like that helps me out learning a little bit better. There’s no, ‘Hey, what do I [have] on this play?’ Because those guys, they expect me to know it.”
Chubb’s transition won’t be purely mental, though.
He’ll have to make the physical adjustment, too, and that includes trying to bring his strong-arm rush move with him from NC State.
A couple weeks ago, the Broncos were visited by perhaps the best possible person to help Chubb adapt his signature move to the pro game.
After all, DeMarcus Ware often used similar power moves as he racked up 138.5 sacks during his 12-year NFL career.
“[DeMarcus] helped me out a lot just doing different pass rush moves with him,” said Chubb of Ware’s visit to OTAs. “He’s a bigger guy, as well, so he was just telling me the things he did to have success for so long in his career. He said whenever I needed anything to just text him or let him know.”
Chubb hasn’t done that yet, but he plans to send Ware videos of his pass-rushing moves to receive further critiques.
As the fifth-overall pick prepares for the season, every little bit of advice should help.
Because while every team hopes to find pass rushers, having a pair of elite ones is even better.