Justin Gilbert 2014 NFL Draft preseason scouting report

US PRESSWIRE

Which version of the Oklahoma State quarterback will we get in 2013?

Justin Gilbert | 6'0, 195 pounds | Cornerback | Oklahoma State | Senior

Justin Gilbert the sophomore and Justin Glibert the junior were two drastically different players. The 2011, sophomore version of Gilbert was an exciting young cornerback filled with potential. He was a player that seemed to be on his way to putting together his immense physical ability with an understanding of how to play coverage.

The 2012 version of Gilbert wasn't quite as promising. As a junior, Gilbert's technique was sloppy, he was beat often, and his biggest plays came in the return game, where Gilbert is most impressive at this point.

Gilbert's senior season at Oklahoma State will be a crucial one in his development and how he is perceived in the NFL ranks. Was 2011 a mirage? Can he put a troublesome 2012 behind him? Which Justin Gilbert are we going to get?

What he does well

Gilbert may be the best athlete among senior cornerbacks in the entire country. His straight-line speed is excellent and he gets to top speed in a hurry. In terms of recovering after getting beat, Gilbert doesn't have much of an issue. He's also able to close on the football quickly. At 6 feet tall and right around 200 pounds, Gilbert has a nice build for the position and the arm length to go with it.

As a kick returner, Gilbert is ready to make an impact in the NFL from day one. He has blazing speed and confidently hits the seam when he sees it. His acceleration is an asset in the return game as well.

it's also apparent both when returning kicks and dropping back in coverage that Gilbert is a confident and aggressive player. This doesn't always work out in his favor, but it makes him a big play threat whenever he is able to get his hands on the football.

What he needs to improve on

Technical flaws really hurt Gilbert in coverage. He often plays the game with a lack of balance due to sloppy footwork and long, exaggerated steps in his back pedal and side shuffle. Instead of quickly shuffling from a low, balanced stance, Gilbert is upright when backpedaling and sliding back into coverage. He has a hop in his step that he needs to get rid of. Despite his physical ability, that type of footwork makes it difficult for him to stick with wide receiver or recover when he's beat. He also needs to do a better job of reading and reacting. Too often he's caught off guard by a route or late to react to a short screen pass.

Bottom line

Gilbert needs to get his development back on the right track in 2013 or risk falling out of favor in NFL circles. Based on ability, he may be one of the top 50 players in this draft class, but another season like 2012 will make him a day three pick at best. That's the tricky part of preseason evaluation. So much depends on how Gilbert responds to his poor season. He showed flashes in 2011, but those flashes need to become a consistent pattern for him to live up to his immense physical ability.

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