Scouting The Draft: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

We continue to look at some of the top prospects for the 2014 NFL draft in relation to the Jets.

Introduction

One year ago we selected a cornerback with our first round selection, and despite Dee Milliner having his ups and mostly downs during the season, the Jets remain high on the young Alabama prospect. It's likely the Jets will let Cromartie go and then try and re-sign him to a more cap friendly contract, however that is by no means a foregone conclusion. We do still have Kyle Wilson, but I think most agree he is better inside. So although very unlikely the Jets will select a corner early, you just never know. So it's always worth covering these guys just in case.

Six kickoff returns over his college career and a Big 12 leading 7 interceptions in 2012, Gilbert is a playmaker, both as a defender but also with the ball in his hands. Although it hasn't always been plane sailing for Gilbert, he has been terrific in 2013 and now he is rightfully considered one of the top prospects ahead of the 2014 NFL draft. Likely a first round talent, it's going to be interesting to see where he lands. Could it be with the Jets?

Measurables

Height: 6'0

Weight: 202lb's

Class: Senior

Combine 40: 4.37

225 Bench: 20 reps

Vertical: 35 1/2

Broad: 10"5

3 Cone: 6.92

Statistcs

*Touchdowns are interceptions returned only. All stats taken from ESPN*

Year Tackles Sacks Forced Fumbles Interceptions Passes Defensed TD's
2013 42 0 0 7 6 2
2012 64 0 0 0 9 0
2011 58 0 0 5 10 0
2010 18 0 0 0 1 0

Positives

  • Height/Weight/Speed - Gilbert is the prototypical defensive back, he has good height, with good bulk, long arms and above average speed for the position.
  • Change of Direction - One of his key traits is his ability to flip his hips without losing momentum and close on the ball carrier quickly.
  • Vision - Possesses a natural feel for the game, keeps his eyes on his receiver while peeking at the QB to get a good read on where the ball will be going.
  • Fluidity: This goes hand in hand with the change of direction but he is smooth in his backpedal and is fast to either flip the hips to run in coverage, or plant the foot to explode on the receiver or ball carrier.
  • Press-Man - A lot of corners who come into the league struggle when asked to play in press coverage. Gilbert relishes press coverage and is happy to mix it up at the line.
  • Playmaking instincts - If you look at the interception numbers, it tells you he has good hands and a good nose for the football. He breaks crisply and his closing speed baits quarterbacks into believing they have the time to fit it through.
  • Physicality - Likes to play and mix it up with bigger receivers. Has a good vertical that allows him to contest jump balls and possesses a lot of upper body strength that allows him to come down with a lot of them.
  • Leverage - Uses his long arms in coverage but also when getting off blocks to set the edge in the run game. I was actually very impressed with his ability to rip off his blocks.
Negatives

  • Risk-taker - Most ball hawks will come with a reputation as a risk-taker it's how they come down with their picks a lot of the time. However when it doesn't work, they look bad. Sometimes Gilbert is made to look bad as he will jump on a pump fake and will be beat on the double-move. Saw it several times in games from 2013, 2012 and 2011.
  • Concentration - What happened in 2012? who knows. Some say he got complacent. Gilbert does sometimes lose concentration, which allows players to gain leverage and separation. Luckily for him he has excellent closing speed and recovery speed.
  • Too physical? - If you watch any Oklahoma State game, you'll see Gilbert making contact down the field. It's another area that corners struggle with. A lot of downfield contact won't get called in NCAA ball, but it definitely will in the NFL. So it's just something to watch out for with Gilbert.
  • Tackling in space - One thing I'd want to reaffirm to Gilbert every day in camp, go in low. Sometimes he comes in to tackle too high, and with stronger receivers and tight ends in the NFL, he could be experiencing a lot of stiff-arms.
Conclusion

There may seem to be a lot of negatives there but a lot of it is easily correctable. He has the size/strength and speed that you will look for in a corner and when you add play-making ability and length in there. It's not a surprise that he is being talked about as a first round talent. I would say he will go anywhere from #15-#40 but likely won't fall out of the first. He looks the part and if he can stay consistent then there is no reason to doubt him. The transition from NCAA to NFL is usually hardest for corners, and I expect he will draw some flags early in his career, but he'll soon get up to speed. He has a very promising future, and it wouldn't surprise me if he was going to a pro-bowl in the first year or two of his career and then we'll see what happens.

Would I draft him for the Jets?

I don't think corner is necessarily one of our pressing needs, but that depends on what we do with Cromartie. If we are going best player available and he is the best player, then I wouldn't be upset that we drafted him. I think a lot of fans would be upset with a corner in round one when we need so much offence. However as always with these things. It will depend what we do in free agency. I really like Gilbert as a corner and think he'll be a tremendous player at the next level.

Highlights

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