When the Redskins selected Antonio Gibson with the 66th(3rd round) overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, I was a bit disappointed. It’s not that I hated the player - but rather, it was who was on the board at a position of need when the selection was made.
- Josh Jones
- Bryan Edwards
- Lucas Niang
- Devin Duvernay
- Adam Trautman
Now, I will admit that I did not do a lot of scouting of Gibson prior to the draft. I certainly knew who he was, as I just watched him have a very solid game as a receiver against Penn State in the Cotton Bowl on December 28, catching 6 passes for 99 yards - and that was a VERY good defense.
I had to go back and watch some game tape after the selection was made to find out what type of player were were getting. After doing so, I became a bit more comfortable with the selection.
First, Gibson is much more receiver than he is a pure running back. He reminds me a lot of a much heavier(and poor-man’s version of) Percy Harvin. He is used most in the slot, and can be a mismatch for linebackers and safeties with his sub 4.4 speed. He will line up deep as a running back, but most of his touches come off jet sweeps and outside zones, where the Tigers tried to keep him in space.
Second, this kid is shifty after the catch. I saw a lot of bubble and “black” screens where he would get the ball at or behind the line of scrimmage and was simply asked to make the first man miss - which he often did. Once that occurred, his natural running ability would kick in, and he was an open-field nightmare for linebackers and defensive backs.
Finally, he has amazing speed and burst. It doesn’t take him long to reach top speed, and once he does, very few are going to catch him from behind.
A few negatives stood out to me however.
As a wide receiver, he was not asked to run a lot of routes at Memphis. Most of his receptions were of the short variety. When he did go on intermediate or deep routes, he did not show to be a natural catcher of the football, unlike another Swiss-Army-Knife type of player in this draft, Lynn Bowden, did. It was not that he was dropping balls, but rather caught too much with his body, and had a lot of double-catches.
He also did not get a lot of touches between the tackles - which from a durability standpoint, may actually be a good thing. From a pure scouting perspective however, it was tough to gauge if he has the patience to wait for his blocks to develop, square his shoulders and get up-field to get those hard-fought yards. He may not be asked to do that in the NFL, but it is nice to see a 6’0” 228 pound guy have that ability if called upon. I don’t necessarily doubt it’s there - it’s just there is not a lot on tape showing that.
The final thing I did not see was blocking ability. If he is indeed asked to play that Chris Thompson type roll in this offense, blocking does come into play on certain occasions. He certainty has the size to be an effective blocker, but I did not see many times where he was asked to do so, so until I do, that part of his game will remain a mystery.
Early reports have drawn comparisons to current NFL star’s Christian McCaffrey, who Ron Rivera had in Carolina, and Alvin Kamara, who Rivera played against twice per year in the NFC South.
I see a bit more Percy Harvin in his play - as he was used more as a slot receiver, outside zone runner and kick returner at Memphis.
Regardless of how he is used and who he more closely resembles, the Redskins are getting a positionless player - which is the new fad in the NFL, who will be able to create mismatches from various spots on the field, and give Dwayne Haskins another weapon in this new offense.