DENVER (TNS) — Bradley Chubb sat in the Broncos film room studying tape of Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson making defenders look silly with the slightest hip shake to sprint outside the pocket.
Chubb's first challenge as a rookie NFL edge rusher Sunday? Catch the most uncatchable.
"(Wilson) is the best movement quarterback in this entire league," Broncos coach Vance Joseph said.
Chubb can draw on experience for his first regular season start with a college resume that features sacks against a variety of exceptionally mobile ACC quarterbacks, through four seasons at N.C. State. The opposing passer who most resembles Wilson? "I'd say Lamar," Chubb said.
Lamar, of course, being Louisville's Lamar Jackson, the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner and 2018 first-round NFL draft pick who faced Chubb last fall. On the second snap from scrimmage in a 39-25 Wolfpack victory, Chubb squared up the left tackle, charged past with a swim move, wrapped up Jackson's right ankle and sacked him before he escaped the pocket.
"You've got to make there are not plays where he can leak out," Chubb said. "Once you get to him, you've just got to gather your feet and you can't dive at him because he'll make you miss very quickly."
Now, here's the big difference on Sunday. Jackson shows promise as an elusive NFL quarterback. Wilson has nothing left to prove. But you don't have to tell Chubb. When at North Carolina State -- where Wilson also played three seasons -- Chubb once bumped into the Super Bowl winning quarterback. He asked for a photo. "Took the picture," Chubb said, "then he had to be on his way."
Their meeting at Mile High, at least between whistles, will be decidedly less cordial.
"When you have a quarterback like that, it makes the challenge harder," Chubb said, "and the pressure is going to be fun."
But the Broncos won't be smiling should Wilson have it his way. Since 2012, his rookie NFL season, Wilson ranks second to only Cam Newton in quarterback rushing yards (3,275). His extension of plays outside the pocket and accuracy on the run over six seasons are legendary -- and usually occur when the Seahawks' need it most. In the fourth quarter last season, Wilson completed 94-of-139 passes (67 percent) for 1,442 yards, 19 touchdowns and one interception to compile a 138.2 passer rating, according to Pro Football Focus.
"Nobody likes playing Russell Wilson -- he's elite, best of the best," Broncos linebacker Von Miller said. "As a pass rusher, you want a guy that when you get to him and you touch him, he'll lay down for you. Russell is the complete opposite. ... This is going to be a tough one for us."
Those looking for solutions should turn to Broncos nose tackle Domata Peko. The longest-tenured NFL player on Denver's roster (12 seasons) has faced just about every quarterback in the league. He compares Wilson to former AFC North rival Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh. Different body styles -- Wilson: 5-11, 215 / Big Ben: 6-5, 240 -- but the same problems. Both are tough to bring down. Peko said: "You have to maintain your pass-rush lanes and you have to keep him contained."
The Broncos' answer may be constantly applying pressure.
"That's the cool thing about having Von and Chubb and Shane (Ray) and Shaq (Barrett), they can really get after him and then having big (Derek) Wolfe inside," Peko said. "We have a good plan for them. That's the key to the game."
Broncos general manager John Elway touted a plethora of pass rushers as a good problem to have when introducing Chubb as Denver's No. 5 overall pick. Keeping Wilson in check will require a total team effort. And, while pressure exists for Chubb to immediately contribute, the learning curve for even elite edge rushers can be steep. New Bears' linebacker Khalil Mack, the highest paid defensive player in the league (six years, $141 million), had only four sacks in his rookie season.
"The biggest thing for (Chubb) is don't make it more than what it is," defensive coordinator Joe Woods said. "Just go play football. Play it the way you've been playing it your whole life. It's nothing special. A run is a run, a pass is a pass. I'm sure he's going to be probably a little bit nervous at the start of the game, but I think he'll be fine."