2014 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Oklahoma State Corner Justin Gilbert
To prepare for the 2014 NFL Draft InsidetheFilmRoom is breaking down the best 5 prospects from every position. This week we are examining the top cornerback prospects and we are focusing our attention on Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert today.
Playing in the wide open Big 12, Justin Gilbert was targeted early and often as a 4 year cornerback for Oklahoma State. But with his incredible athleticism and size Gilbert was able to not only handle the onslaught but thrive against it.
Gilbert first drew the eye of NFL scouts as a sophomore after multiple impressive performances against teams loaded with future NFL players in Oklahoma, Baylor and West Virginia. He regressed a bit during his junior season only to rebound stronger than ever last year as a senior. In 2013, Gilbert finished with an NCAA leading seven interceptions and was so dominant that Oklahoma State was able to play him without any safety help.
That stellar play at the college level along with a prototypical frame and elite athleticism for the cornerback position make Gilbert the top corner in this year’s draft by far. Add in his dynamic ability to return kicks — he had six kick returns for touchdowns at Oklahoma State– and it is easy to see why Gilbert will likely be selected in the top 12 picks.
Elite Size and Athleticism: 6 foot plus with board shoulders and long arms, elite speed, ran top 40 yard dash of all CBs at the combine, light feet, impressive acceleration for a bigger CB, good jumper and is a smooth athlete.
Natural Receiver: Has good balls skills, turns and locates the football with ease, attacks the football at its highest point, can snatch the ball away from his body, softs hands and had had 7 interceptions last season.
Can Play on an Island: Can play without safety help due to his speed, was placed on an island frequently at Oklahoma State, has the deep speed to run with speedy receivers on vertical routes and the quickness to mirror double moves, comebacks, etc.
Upside: Incredible high ceiling due to his athleticism, still relies on his athleticism over technique, improved every year at OSU and could be a dominat corner if he fixed his footwork/technique.
Impact Return Man: Elite return man on kickoffs with six touchdown kick returns in his college career, punts and interceptions, has the speed and acceleration to blow by defenders, has the size to run through arm tackles, has the vision to see holes/cut back lanes and is a legit threat to take it the distance every time he touches the ball.
Gambler: Gambles looking for the big play, can get caught out of position on double moves and would benefit from playing more conservatively.
Footwork/Technique: Can struggle with his footwork, ok but not great at flipping his hips, can struggle to transfer his weight forward and break on the football, height/size effects his change on direction but he did show a lot of improvement over his four years in Stillwater.
Soft/Lack of Physicality: Plays smaller than his frame, content to let his teammates make the tackles, doesn’t fight off blocks nearly as well as he should, can get pushed around by smaller WRs, seems to shy away from the physical nature of the NFL and plays the run like a cover corner.
Overall: With his size and speed it is obvious that Gilbert would draw the attention of the NFL. But surprisingly Gilbert’s tape is more impressive that his physical specimen. He displayed the ability to lock down his receiver without help and create turnovers with his natural receiving skills.
But the most impressive part of Gilbert’s game is there is plenty of area for improvement. If Gilbert was able to clean up his footwork and play a little more conservative he could become a true lock down boundary corner.
That kind of potential gets NFL scouts drooling. And after impressing during his senior season, Gilbert put the icing on the cake with a great showing at the NFL Combine by running the fastest 40 for a cornerback. With his elite frame/athleticism, impressive body of work at Oklahoma State, lockdown potential and impact return man there is no doubt Justin Gilbert is the best corner in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Prediction: Top 12 Pick
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