ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — When Vic Fangio prepared for the 2018 NFL Draft as the defensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears,Bradley Chubb was among the players he coveted most.
"He was high on our wish list last year," Fangio said Wednesday.
Chubb never made it to the Bears, as the Broncos took the NC State product with the fifth-overall pick. The Bears instead selected Roquan Smith, who was rated as the top inside linebacker in the class.
A year later, Fangio now has Chubb on his team — and the Broncos' head coach thinks the second-year player can thrive in the team's new defense.
"He's tailor-made for us," Fangio said. "I think he'll take the next step just because he's a pro … . He's a very smart football player, very coachable, very intense. I see nothing but bright days ahead for him."
Chubb, who led all rookies with 12 sacks last season, is intent on finding even more success this season. Though he challenged the all-time rookie sack record for much of the season, Chubb said he doesn't want to be identified as a player who peaked as a rookie.
"My main thing is I don't want to live off the 12-sacks-as-a-rookie hype my whole career," Chubb said at Von Miller's Pass Rush Summit in early June. "I want to keep getting better and better each year and improve that sack total each year. I know some years it might be nine or 10 [sacks], but just as long as I'm getting better, as long as I'm making my teammates better and as long as we're winning, that's all I care about."
Former Bronco outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware has tried to help Chubb realize that success as an outside linebacker can come via avenues other than sacks. Ware first worked with Chubb in 2018 when he worked as a Pass Rush Consultant for the Broncos.
"I told him, 'It's not all about the sacks,'" Ware said in early June. "It's how consistently you can get to the quarterback. The sacks will come, because a quarterback can just throw the ball away and it doesn't count as a sack, but the pressures add up. He's really taken on that mentality."
While at Miller's Pass Rush Summit, Chubb worked alongside elite NFL players like Aaron Donald, Calais Campbell, Melvin Ingram and Yannick Ngakoue.
Chubb worked with Ngakoue to learn the Jaguar rusher's patented cross-chop move, and he said he could gain valuable information from each of the attendees.
"Everybody has a different approach to the game, and I feel like not everybody's approach is going to fit with what I do," Chubb said. "So all the great players, I've just got to take those perspectives and use it in my own game."
It's not yet clear how those moves and perspective will manifest themselves in Chubb's game this fall. Von Miller, who plays opposite Chubb in the Broncos' defense, certainly isn't about to give away any sort of competitive advantage.
"He's worked extremely hard this offseason," Miller said Tuesday. "His moves, I don't want to give away his secrets and what he's got coming this season. He's been working on some particular moves and they're going to do a lot for him this year. You can tell the work he's putting in every day on the field. Him being at the Pass Rush Summit — being around all of those guys — you can just tell he has a better grasp on the game and his game.
"It's dope to see type of jump. I'm excited to see him go out and play some of these tackles this year."
Miller knows from experience what Chubb can accomplish. A year after recording 11.5 sacks as a rookie, Miller exploded with 18.5 in his second season.
With Miller's help, Ware's advice and Fangio's scheme, Chubb will look to take that step into the upper echelon of NFL pass rushers.
And in the process, his sack total could take a jump, too.