Saturday, he takes on one of the best draft eligible quarterbacks, in Bryce Petty. I've seen nothing to this point to think Gilbert won't perform at a high level.
Let's see how his game translates to the NFL.
Without question Gilbert will blow up the combine. If he ran sub 4.4 I wouldn't be surprised at all. Over the summer, Gilbert raced an incoming freshman who reportedly ran a 4.32, and beat him. Gilbert is a great athlete. The eye test says a low 4.4. These Baylor receivers can really run, but Gilbert shouldn't have any issues keeping up.
Another area that exposes Gilbert for his great athleticism. When the ball is in the air, he does a great job of closing.
You can also tell by his kick returns, he gets to top speed in a hurry.
When I think ball skills it comes down to how the corner catches the ball, is he disruptive at the catch point, does he have strong hands to secure or break up catches. Also, how the corner plays the ball in the air. In the NFL today, DBs are terrible at getting their head around and finding the ball.
We know Gilbert is a great athlete, but he turns into a receiver when the ball is in the air, and that's what makes him special.
Gilbert has really good hands for a defensive back, like I said he's a receiver once the ball is in the air, so the catch point is his. Gilbert has excellent ball skills, and gets his head turned around in time to find the ball in the air. Something often overlooked, but a trait he excels at.
This is an area where Gilbert struggled last year. He had lapses, and had a tendency to bite on double moves. He's done a great job of recognizing it as a weakness, and cleaning it up. Through 10 games this year, I've only seen him fall asleep one time.
Here, he just gets caught staring into the backfield, instead of reading his key, the tight end. These lapses are rare this year, he's much improved in this area. He's still aggressive, but he knows he has safety help over the top, so I applaud that.
Gilbert is 6" 200 pounds and can run with any receiver you line up next to him. You really get to see all of his athleticism on display when he's returning kicks. Once the combine comes around I expect him to be a top 5 performers in more than one category. I'm guessing the broad jump & Vertical.
This is understanding route concepts. Passing off players in zone, seeing a 3 step drop and knowing a quick route is coming. The upper echelon corners have great instincts and understand what routes are coming based on how tight of split the receiver has, or route combinations in general.
I saw Gilbert do a great job of staying on top of a double post route, that was impressive.
Here, he's in zone coverage, passes off the slant route, and comes back to the flat route. Just great route recognition & instincts.
Here he understands that the WR is outside the numbers, so his routes are limited, and uses it to his advantage.
Occasionally Oklahoma State will bring Gilbert on a corner blitz, I've seen him make a tackle for loss, so he's capable.
This is far and away the worst trait for Gilbert. He doesn't seem to be very interested in tackling. When he's being blocked by a receiver, he doesn't put forth the effort you like to see as far as disengaging and making a play. Tackling is simply about effort & will, and to this point, it's pretty clear tackling isn't high on Gilbert's priority.
I compare it to Xavier Rhodes last year. Who when you watch him, looked like he was clearly protecting himself for the NFL, I wonder if this is the case with Gilbert, who goes all out in coverage, but is timid when it comes to tackling. I guess we'll find out next year, but as of now, his angles & pursuit is a problem. I will say that his game is Texas he showed his best effort I can remember.
When in man coverage, I look for if the corner can stay in the receiver's hip pocket, if he's low in his backpedal and if he's feet are underneath him. In zone I want to see if the corner can read the quarterback, show good awareness as far as identifying routes, and bait the QB into throwing the ball knowing you can cover the ground to make it up.
Gilbert plays a good variety of coverage, which speaks to his versatility, he's not limited to any coverage. As I said, he's improved in his lapses and has turned into a play-maker this year. Opposing QB's have paid for throwing the ball his way.
Change of Direction/Feet
Gilbert is such a good athlete that he can get away with his feet not being underneath him all the time, specifically in his back pedal his feet get a little wide. His interception against Iowa State was a great example of what I'm talking about.
Again, his atheltic ability allows him to be much more fluid than most. Gilbert has no problem flipping his hips and changing direction whether it's turning and running deep with a receiver. Or like in this next example, on slant routes.
Finally, the grading scale, here's how it works. As always, you can find it here.
|Multiple Pro Bowl Player, Top 10||8.5 – 9.0|
|Highly Productive Starter, 1st Round||8.0 – 8.4|
|Very Good Starter, Early 2nd Round||7.8 – 7.9|
|Reliable Starter, 2nd Round||7.5 – 7.7|
|Potential Starter in Year 2, 3rd Round||7.0 – 7.4|
|Backup/Spot Starter, 4th Round||6.5 – 6.9|
|Productive Backup, 5th Round||6.0 – 6.4|
|Very Good Backup/STs, 6th Round||5.5 – 5.9|
|Quality Backup/Good STs, 7th Round||5.0 – 5.4|
|Backup/STs/Project Player, 7th Round||4.5 – 4.9|
|Priority Free Agent w/ Limitations||4.0 – 4.4|
|Change of direction/Feet||3||2.7|
My grade for Gilbert his high, higher than most. He's graded as an 8.03, making him a late 1st rounder. With the positional value, wouldn't be surprised to see him go earlier, especially after the Senior Bowl & Combine. Gilbert is a great athlete who has refined his skills this year and got rid of the lapses that hurt him last year.
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