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Scouting Jets UDFA wide receiver Xavier Gipson

Taking a look at a promising Jets UDFA receiver

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 26 McNeese State at Stephen F Austin Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been breaking down the Jets’ rookies. We’re moving onto the undrafted free agents now, starting with former Stephen F. Austin State wide receiver Xavier Gipson. Today, we break down Gipson in detail.

The 22-year old Gipson is listed at 5’9” and 189 pounds and was a four year starter for the Lumberjacks. He was an all-WAC first teamer twice and an all-Southland Conference first-teamer once. Gipson caught over 50 passes in all four seasons, had two thousand-yard seasons and caught 37 touchdown passes in his career.


Gipson was a two-star prospect as a high school recruit, having played at wide receiver and cornerback, and also ran track in his final year. He originally opted to attend SMU as a cornerback, but then instead decided to enrol at SFA as a receiver.

His impact was immediate, as he caught 52 passes for 934 yards and seven touchdowns in his freshman year and was named as an all-Southland Conference second-teamer. He was then named as a first-teamer in his sophomore year as he caught 52 passes again, this time for 841 yards and nine touchdowns (and in two fewer games).

The Lumberjacks moved to the Western Athletic Conference before Gipson’s junior year and he posted back-to-back thousand yard seasons to earn first-team all-conference honors in each year. He was also the WAC offensive player of the year in each season. 2021 saw him catch 74 passes for 1,367 yards and 14 touchdowns. He wasn’t quite as productive in 2022 but still had a thousand-yard season, 65 catches and seven scores.

Gipson was not invited to the scouting combine or the senior bowl, but he caught a 48-yard pass in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and put together a good workout at his pro day. The Jets signed him to an undrafted free agent contract with a $15K signing bonus and $150K in guaranteed salary.

Now let’s take a look at what Gipson brings to the table, divided into categories.


Gipson lacks size, which could be a limitation at the NFL level. He has a very small catch radius and only two combine attendees in the last 15 years have had smaller hands. One was Hunter Renfrow, though.

What he lacks in size, he makes up for with his speed and agility. He ran a 4.42 at his pro day and posted excellent numbers in the short shuttle and three-cone drill. His explosiveness and strength numbers were about average, although his 1.46 split in the 40-yard dash was faster than anyone at this year’s combine.


Gipson played about 95 percent of his offensive snaps in the slot and that’s obviously going to be his position at the next level. There were a few packages where he lined up in the backfield in a two-back set and looked good running routes from there.

He carried the ball a lot on end arounds and jet sweeps, racking up 179 yards on 32 carries in his college career, and even threw a few passes.

Deep threat

Gipson has had plenty of success on downfield throws, as he has the speed to get behind the defense and the ability to track and locate the ball early.

Despite lining up in the slot, Gipson can be a factor on go-routes, down the seam and on deep crossers.

Four of his seven touchdown catches in 2022 came on passes caught more than 20 yards down the field.


Despite not having played wide receiver until his final year at high school, Gipson looks pretty polished as a route-runner and had plenty of success getting separation at the FCS level. We’ll see how quickly he adjusts to the jump in level during preseason.

Gipson is going to be a tough cover anyway because of his speed, but looks good breaking down and making sharp cuts.

His ability to change direction at full speed can make him a big play threat on play-action passes.

There are, however, times where he does too much trying to set up the break in his route so he can slow himself down by taking false steps or telegraph the change of direction. These are things he will get a good chance to work on against NFL players.


Despite his small catch radius, Gipson is efficient on easy passes, shows good concentration on tipped balls and adjusts well to bring in off-target throws.

He can make catches in the air, going to ground, or over by the sideline but here’s perhaps the most spectacular grab on his highlight reel.

Drops weren’t a major issue as he only averaged four per season and never had more than six in any year. He did have a few focus drops in traffic though.

Red zone

A decent percentage of Gipson’s 37 career touchdown passes came from outside the red zone, but he did make some good plays down there with his ability to create quick separation coming off the line at speed. He can also make tough catches in traffic.

After the catch

Gipson was extremely productive after the catch with his open field speed making him a breakaway threat on slants and screens. Taking both FBS and FCS into account, he had the fourth most yards after catch in the nation in 2022 and the second most in 2021. He led the nation in average yards after the catch by over a yard in 2021.

He impressively averaged almost 10 yards per catch on screen passes alone over the past three seasons.

With his speed and acceleration, you will often see Gipson beating a defender to an angle and forcing them to over pursue. He doesn’t break many tackles, but can certainly make the first man miss on a short pass with a quick cut in space on a regular basis.

His ball security has been solid as he did not lose an offensive fumble in his entire college career.


Gipson’s lack of size will limit his effectiveness as a blocker at the NFL level and he was often used just as a decoy with the Lumberjacks.

Scouting reports note that he gives a good effort as a blocker and his grades were generally good. You can see an example of that effort here.

He had one penalty for offensive pass interference in college, due to blocking too early on a receiver screen.


Gipson has added about 35 pounds since the start of his college career and 20 to his listed weight from last year, but the physical side of the game is something he’ll need to keep working at.

He’s not afraid to go over the middle and will battle for yardage and compete for leverage as a blocker, but he can be de-routed when trying to get open and doesn’t have a good success rate on contested catches.

Special Teams

Gipson can potentially bring added value in the return game and Braxton Berrios’ departure presents an opportunity for someone to grab a job that could earn them a roster spot.

With four punt return touchdowns in his career and an average of over 20 yards per return, Gipson has spectacular abilities in this area.

He does also have some experience on kickoff returns, averaging 21 yards per return in his first season. He hasn’t done much kickoff return work over the past few years though. Gipson muffed two punts in his career, including one last season.

In addition to his return game contributions, Gipson has just played five snaps in punt coverage and one on the field goal rush unit.

Instincts and Intelligence

Gipson has a good knack for getting himself into open areas and can adjust his route and improvise when a play is extended although he perhaps needs to be better at coming back to the ball with more aggression.

He has good instincts in the open field and displays the ability to turn a short gain into a big play.

He also displays good vision and the ability to follow his blocks in the return game and has good instincts about when to field the ball.

He had one pre-snap penalty in his college career, for a false start.


Character and attitude are obviously not a concern with Gipson who was a good leader who was a four-time captain with the Lumberjacks.

Gipson’s on-field discipline was also good with just three penalties in his entire collegiate career, although one was a personal foul.


Injuries have not been an issue for Gipson in college as he didn’t miss any significant time in college. Durability could be a concern due to his lack of size but, as noted, he has added some weight.

Scheme Fit

Other than Gipson, Randall Cobb is probably the closest thing the Jets have to a “pure” slot receiver on their roster, although nearly all of the players in their rotation are capable of producing from there.

Realistically, Gipson is unlikely to crack the wide receiver rotation this year unless there are injuries but if he earns the return man role, then he has a chance to get some playing time. Down the road, perhaps he has the potential to be a slot specialist at the NFL level.


Gipson’s decision to turn down an FBS scholarship so that he could play wide receiver at a lower level seems to have paid off but he will now need to prove he can produce against NFL talent.

He had mixed results against FBS competition with the Lumberjacks, but did have a few good games, including one against Texas Tech where he caught 13 passes for 158 yards.

As an FCS prospect, he was as dominant as you could hope for, on a team where no other receivers were particularly productive, which is a good sign.

Aaron Rodgers praised Gipson’s performance during the offseason and he seems to have made the most of a good opportunity to work with the first unit with Cobb and Mecole Hardman both missing time. We should get a sense of whether he’s in the mix for a return role, which remains his most viable route to a roster spot, during camp but he has a good short of being on the practice squad at the very least.