OK, so I won’t actually throw my remote control at the 55-inch HDTV sitting in my living room if the New York Giants draft Justin Gilbert with their first-round pick. But I will stand up and throw a three-to-five minute tirade that consists of every reason why Gilbert is not worth a first-round pick, and certainly not the No. 12 pick. For the many people who won’t be around for my hypothetical rant, I will do the honor of making my case now.
Gilbert is just another example of a prospect with highly suspect game film that has moved up draft boards because too much stock is being placed in his athletic potential. Just because he won the NFL Combine doesn’t mean he is going to win you games.
At this point in the draft process, Gilbert is considered the most likely candidate to be the first cornerback drafted. Some have even gone as far projecting him as a top-15 overall pick. I will not argue that Gilbert doesn’t flash moments of excellence, and in those moments he looks like an elite cornerback prospect. The problem with Gilbert is that those moments do not come consistently, and instead there are many instances where you watch Gilbert and shake your head.
Aside from the fact that he is up and down when it comes to pass coverage, there are other flaws in his game that show up consistently. Point blank — Gilbert is a poor tackler. In fact, since I really started studying the draft in-depth, I haven’t seen a projected first-round cornerback who was a worse tackler than Gilbert. What worries me the most about Gilbert is that you can’t blame his tackling entirely on his technique either.
He struggles with the physical aspect of football, and often this is not something that can be taught. He is never looking to get off of the wide receiver’s block and make a tackle in the backfield or the middle of the field. Gilbert is certainly comfortable in a zone scheme where he can play off the line of scrimmage, but when he is forced to play man, he has struggled to succeed.
The Giants’ need at cornerback is definitely not manufactured, and I would go as far as saying that it is their second-biggest need after interior offensive line. Having said that, there are better options in free agency and in the middle-rounds of the draft. I mention Tarrel Brown, a free-agent cornerback who I think is undervalued and the Giants can sign for a reasonable price with regard to their salary cap space. In regards to the draft, earlier today I mentioned Lamarcus Joyner. He may not boast the Combine results of a prospect like Gilbert, but on the field, he has been a much more consistent player.
When the Giants are finally on the clock on day one of the NFL Draft, I am definitely going to be sitting there and crossing my fingers hoping not to hear Gilbert’s name called.