Tag Archives: Justin Gilbert

2014 NFL Draft Cornerback Rankings

This is not a Big Board for Cornerbacks, this is a ranking of how good the cornerback is today and doesn’t take into account the potential that each player has.  Ties will be decided by which player I see as a better prospect.


21. Ross Cockrell – Duke – 6-0 – 191 lbs. – 4.56

Coverage 38/60
Run Defense 10/20
Tackling 10/20
Overall 58/100

Cockrell is long, but is very thin, average athletically, and struggles with double moves and breaking routes.  He can provide depth for a team in the NFL but he has no special skills that separate him from the other prospects.


20. Andre Hal – Vanderbilt – 5-10 – 188 lbs. – 4.50

Coverage 38/60
Run Defense 11/20
Tackling 10/20
Overall 59/100

Hal is small, but he is a very confident and aggressive player, his top end speed is good but he lacks elite quickness, he may find a niche in the NFL as a nickelback.


19. Marcus Williams – North Dakota State – 5-11 – 196 lbs. – 4.60

Coverage 37/60
Run Defense 11/20
Tackling 11/20
Overall 59/100

Williams is a physical player with average size, he is willing to tackle and make plays in the run game, at the NFL level he is going to struggle in coverage but he understands how to play and will make an NFL roster.


18. Chris Davis – Auburn – 5-10 – 202 lbs. – 4.56

Coverage 35/60
Run Defense 11/20
Tackling 13/20
Overall 59/100

Chris Davis struggles in coverage, he doesn’t have great ball skills and has tight hips, he is willing to tackle and sets the corner on run plays which is valuable.  Davis can be a valuable special teams player and provide depth in the NFL.


17. Loucheiz Purifoy – Florida – 6-0 – 190 lbs. – 4.61

Coverage 44/60
Run Defense 9/20
Tackling 6/20
Overall 59/100

Purifoy is a great talent, he shouldn’t be this low on the list, he has great feet, good hips, and is one of the most confident players you will see.  The downside is that Purifoy has character issues, he is  known to be lazy, he is not willing to tackle.  If somebody motivates Purifoy they have a long and skilled cover corner, but Purifoy could just as easily be out of the NFL in two years.


16. Walt Aikens – Liberty – 6-1 – 203 lbs. – 4.49

Coverage 40/60
Run Defense 9/20
Tackling 11/20
Overall 60/100

Aikens comes with baggage after being kicked off of the Illinois football team in 2011 but their is no question he is talented.  He is a long rangy athlete with good quickness and average top end speed.  Aikens could be a quality cornerback in the NFL, and excels in press coverage.


15. Marcus Roberson – Florida – 6-0 – 191 lbs. – 4.61

Coverage 40/60
Run Defense 9/20
Tackling 11/20
Overall 60/100

Roberson is another talented cornerback out of Florida, he is very aggressive and that is one of his biggest issues, he is not disciplined and too often tries to make a big play.  Roberson is also poor in run defense and does not set the corner on screens or outside run plays.  Roberson has the ability to be an above average cornerback in the NFL.


14. Bashaud Breeland – Clemson – 5-11 – 197 lbs. – 4.62

Coverage 39/60
Run Defense 12/20
Tackling 10/20
Overall 61/100

Breeland is an adequate run defender with solid size.  He is a smart player and has great ball skills, but he is too often beaten.  Breeland does not have great acceleration and when he is beaten he starts grabbing the receiver.  Breeland has NFL talent but doesn’t quite know how to use it yet, when he does he will be a good player.


13. Keith McGill – Utah – 6-3 – 211 lbs. – 4.51

Coverage 42/60
Run Defense 9/20
Tackling 10/20
Overall 61/100

McGill has great size, length, and speed making him a fantastic prospect with high upside.  The downside to McGill is that he is not very experienced and often finds himself out of position.  He is nothing more than average against the run.  McGill needs to play smarter and better understand his job on each play but he has the potential to be a good starter in the NFL.


12. Stanley Jean-Baptiste – Nebraska – 6-3 – 218 lbs. – 4.61

Coverage 43/60
Run Defense 10/20
Tackling 10/20
Overall 63/100

Jean-Baptiste possesses fantastic size for a cornerback but he doesn’t use it effectively, he is not a factor in the run game and isn’t an aggressive tackler.   He is surprisingly polished and smart in coverage but he is quicker than he is fast allowing him to get beat deep, I wouldn’t be surprised if he moves to safety.  Jean-Baptiste will  need time to develop but he will be a starter in the NFL for a long time.


 

11. Phillip Gaines – Rice – 6-0 – 193 lbs. – 4.38

Coverage 42/60
Run Defense 9/20
Tackling 13/20
Overall 64/100

Gaines has great speed and good length for an NFL cornerback.  He is a willing tackler and is able to consistently wrap up and bring down the ball carrier, but he is not great at fighting off blocks in the run game.  Gaines has above average coverage abilities but does not have good ball skills.  Gaines is a risk, but his measurables and coverage skills will make him a hot commodity in the NFL draft, and a very good cornerback in the NFL.


10. Shaquille Richardson – Arizona – 6-0 – 194 lbs. – 4.44

Coverage 41/60
Run Defense 15/20
Tackling 10/20
Overall 66/100

Richardson has solid coverage ability including fluid hips, but he often is caught guessing the route the wide receiver is going to run. Richardson is not very aggressive against the run but he is a solid tackler.   Richardson has a lot of potential but he will never become a star, he has too many flaws, still Richardson can become an average starting cornerback in the NFL.


9. Aaron Colvin – Oklahoma 5-11 – 177 lbs. – 4.51

Coverage 39/60
Run Defense 13/20
Tackling 15/20
Overall 67/100

Colvin tore his ACL at the Senior Bowl and will fall in the draft, but teams should not forget how good he was before the injury.  Colvin had a fantastic season, he is a smart and disciplined player who can contribute as soon as he is healthy.  Colvin has average speed and quickness but he is physical and smart which allows him to be successful.  He makes plays in the run game and will rarely get beat deep in coverage.  If Colvin heals from his ACL injury he will be a reliable starter in the NFL.

8.  Rashaad Reynolds – Oregon State – 5-10 – 189 lbs. – 4.51

Coverage 41/60
Run Defense 14/20
Tackling 12/20
Overall 67/100

Reynolds is not your prototypical mid-round prospect, he is  a polished cornerback, although undersized and not a great athlete, he is smart, instinctive and a ball hawk.  If you float a pas Reynolds will find the ball and fight for it, he is also aggressive in the run game and will never shy away from making a tackle.  Reynolds size will not be an issue and he will become one of the NFL’s best ball hawks.


7. Bradley Roby – Ohio State – 5-11 – 194 lbs. – 4.39

Coverage 41/60
Run Defense 13/20
Tackling 14/20
Overall 68/100

Roby has wold class speed and acceleration along with fluid hips allowing him to be a shutdown cornerback.  Roby allows receivers to release inside too easily and gives up a lot of short completions due to backpedaling too aggressively.  Roby can also play lackadaisically at times and chooses when he is going to stop the run.  Roby has star potential but he needs a coach who will motivate him and teach him.


6. Pierre Desir – Lindenwood – 6-1 – 198 lbs. – 4.59

Coverage 46/60
Run Defense 11/20
Tackling 12/20
Overall 69/100

Desir has every physical trait you could ask for, size, speed, acceleration, agility, and flexibility.  Desir has elite upside but playing against such poor competition he often forgot the fundamentals of the position and tried to play off of pure skill, he is such a great talent that he  was still effective while doing this.  Desir also needs to improve as a run defender and stick to his fundamentals when tackling.  Desir has the potential to be one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL if he reaches his vast potential.


5. Lamarcus Joyner – Florida State – 5-8 – 194 lbs. – 4.55

Coverage 40/60
Run Defense 18/20
Tackling 15/20
Overall 73/100

Joyner comes into the draft as a wild card, nobody knows if he is a cornerback or a safety, but one thing is sure, Joyner is a football player.  Joyner is an aggressive tackler and a hard hitter, he is an effective blitzer and makes tackles behind the line of scrimmage, he is also a solid coverage player on short to intermediate routes.  Joyner doesn’t possess great quickness or speed, this limits his ability as a coverage cornerback.  Joyner’s best role will be as a player who plays both safety and cornerback while being used as a blitzer occasionally.


4. Jason Verrett – TCU – 5-10 – 189 lbs. – 4.38

Coverage 49/60
Run Defense 13/20
Tackling 11/20
Overall 73/100

Verrett is an extremely talented cornerback, he is physical and smart, he can cover inside or outside receivers.  Verrett has good speed and a quick backpedal, allowing him to stay with any receiver.  He is also an aggressive run defender who is willing to set the edge, his effectiveness is hindered by his size though.  The biggest knock on Verrett is that he has been injury prone.  Verrett will become one of the best nickelbacks in the NFL within 3 years.


3. Darqueze Dennard – Michigan State – 5-11 – 199 lbs. – 4.51

Coverage 47/60
Run Defense 16/20
Tackling 13/20
Overall 76/100

Dennard is best known for leading “The No Fly Zone” in college, but Dennard is a great NFL prospect.  Dennard is physical at the line of scrimmage and has great closing speed.  He is not often beaten but when he is he tends to grab at the receiver.  Dennard has good ball skills and wants to get in on tackles.  The only knock on Dennard is his lack of top end speed which shouldn’t matter due to his great quickness and his press coverage ability.  Dennard will be one of the better cornerbacks in the NFL.


2. Justin Gilbert – Oklahoma State – 6-0 – 202 lbs. 4.37

Coverage 56/60
Run Defense 11/20
Tackling 10/20
Overall 77/100

Gilbert is the best cover cornerback in this draft class.  He is polished in press coverage and has great athleticism, the only faults noticeable  in his coverage ability is that he is over aggressive but that is okay when you have world class ball skills, and Gilbert has tighter hips than you would like.  He needs to be more willing to fight through blocks and drive the ball carrier to the ground but he is an adequate tackler.  Justin Gilbert will be the first cornerback drafted due to the value of a shutdown cornerback in the NFL.


1. Kyle Fuller – Virginia Tech – 6-0 – 190 lbs. – 4.49

Coverage 45/60
Run Defense 17/20
Tackling 17/20
Overall 79/100

Fuller had the best season out of any cornerback in the 2014 NFL Draft.  He is a fantastic run defender, he fights off blocks, keeps his outside arm open, and wraps up and brings down the ball carrier.  Fuller lacks great top end speed but he is a smart player with good ball skills who uses his fundamentals to slow down elite receivers.  Fuller is not a shutdown cornerback but he can play both man and zone coverage very effectively, he makes plays on the ball, he plays aggressively, and he is a willing tackler and that is what makes him the best cornerback in the 2014 draft class.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is Justin Gilbert An Elite Cornerback Prospect?

Justin Gilbert comes into the NFL with all the measurables that you could ask for, 6’0″, 202 lbs., and he runs a 4.37 40 yard dash, but do these impressive measurables alone make him an elite prospect?  No, while he is a very good athlete there are players like Phillip Gaines who have the same impressive physical tools, Gilbert needs the intangibles to separate himself from the other cornerbacks, now let’s take a look at whether or not Gilbert has these intangibles.

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One important thing for a cornerback is what is known as a trigger.  This is when the defensive player breaks out of a backpedal to make a play on the ball.  Elite cornerbacks need to break out of their backpedal and accelerate as quickly as possible, each wasted step gives the receiver more time to catch the ball and gives the quarterback a larger margin of error.  Here are some plays that display Justin Gilbert’s trigger:

Gilbert

Gilbert read that the receiver was running a button hook and saw the QB releasing the ball, he was seamlessly able to break from his backpedal into a sprint to make a play on the ball

.Gilbert

Here the Wide Receiver is running a comeback route and Gilbert is late to recognize it, he uses his great footwork and acceleration to close in on the receiver and make a play on the ball.

Gilbert

On this play Justin Gilbert is in the perfect position, it looks like the wide receiver is running a button hook which Gilbert breaks back on and has covered, but the quarterback is throwing back shoulder which Gilbert also has covered.  After covering the play perfectly Gilbert finishes the play perfectly by intercepting the pass and returning it for a touchdown.

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Another Important part of a defensive backs game is to have fluid and loose hips, this allows them to break in and out of routes with the most athletic wide receivers.

Gilbert

Here you see Gilbert has trouble turning his hips on the out route by the wide receiver, he takes extra steps to get turned around and only breaks up this play due to a combination of an awful throw by the quarterback and his elite closing speed.

Gilbert

When a wide receiver is running a button hook or a comeback route his goal is to break the cornerbacks cushion forcing the cornerback to turn and run, Gilbert allowed the wide receiver to eat up his cushion forcing him to turn and run.  Once Gilbert turns he is unable to turn again due to his tight hips and the receiver is able to make an easy catch.  This is a combination of Gilbert not understanding what a receiver is trying to due to him, and Gilbert not having fluid hips that allow him to make sudden movements.

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Tackling is important for every position, but it is especially important to defensive backs, Antoine Winfield made a career out of being a run stopping cornerback.  I’ll say this right now Gilbert is no Antoine Winfield, he is soft.  Gilbert is what is known as a shoe string tackler.

Gilbert

On this play Gilbert allows a wide receiver to block him, he doesn’t even attempt to shed the block, fundamentally he does the right thing by keeping his outside arm free but that is about the extent of the good that he does on the play, the receiver somehow decides it is a good idea to run into Gilbert’s open arm and Gilbert just swings his arm at him and doesn’t even attempt to wrap him up.

Gilbert

On this play I want to believe that Justin Gilbert tripped, but I am almost sure that is not what happened.  It looks like Gilbert planned on making a tackle but he saw the offensive lineman and in fear of being hit he dove at the receivers ankles rather than wrapping the receiver up.  Gilbert is pathetic when it comes to run defense.

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One of the final important things to a cornerback is their ability to play the ball in the air and high point the ball like they are a wide receiver.  This is the one area where Justin Gilbert is truly special.

Gilbert

Here Gilbert stays with his receiver through the double move and knows the ball is coming before the receiver does, Gilbert then elevates and catches the ball at it’s highest point.

Gilbert

Here Gilbert ends up one on one with a significantly bigger receiver, Gilbert though is able to squeeze the receiver to the sideline essentially using the sideline as another defender.  Now the receiver has to adjust to the ball and stay in bounds, this causes the receiver to adjust his jump and doesn’t allow him to high point the ball.  Gilbert tracks and high points the ball perfectly getting a big pass deflection in the end zone.

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Jamming and rerouting a receiver at the line is crucial if you are facing a receiver who is a better athlete than you, this will allow you to stop their momentum and prevent them from getting quick separation.  A good jam at the line can knock a wide receiver off of his route and completely ruin a play for the offense.  Justin Gilbert didn’t play press coverage very often in college but when he did I was thoroughly unimpressed.

Gilbert

When Gilbert goes to jam the receiver he is flat footed and reaching, he should be stepping into the receiver and jamming his hands into the receivers chest.  Gilbert is off balance and completely misses his jam, the receiver beats Gilbert down field easily as Gilbert is not able to regain his balance to turn his hips and run quick enough.

 

Positives:

Posses great size for the positions with an athletic build

Great speed, more straight line speed than lateral speed

Best defensive player in the class at playing the ball in the air

Great trigger, has the important ability to break back on the ball with very few steps needed

Extremely Confident

 

Negatives:

Soft, doesn’t fight off blocks, not a willing tackler

Tight hips, causes him to lose balance and is not able to turn and run as well as he needs to

Not great in press coverage, needs to learn how to jam at the LOS

 

Prediction:

Gilbert is not an elite cornerback prospect due to his tackling prowess, or lack thereof, his tight hips, and the fact that he didn’t play much press coverage in college.  I still consider Gilbert the best cornerback in the class and expect him to be drafted in the Top 20 picks of the NFL Draft.