Already considered one of the top corners in this year’s draft, Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert only added to his draft stock with a strong showing at the NFL Combine.
Gilbert, who stands six feet and weighed in at 202 pounds, put on a stout performance during defensive back testing on Tuesday. The potential first-round draft choice turned in a 4.37-second 40-yard dash time, and logged 20 reps of 225 pounds on bench press.
Gilbert’s stature, as well as his rare combination of speed and strength, moves him near—if not at—the top of the rankings among this year’s defensive backs. While meeting with media Sunday, Gilbert spoke about the benefits of playing in the pass-happy Big XII in transitioning his game to the professional ranks.
“I think Big XII defensive backs are some of the best defensive backs in all of college football,” Gilbert said. “I think sometimes they get overlooked because we give up plays, but at the same time, we have way more plays coming at us. Instead of, for instance, in the SEC, where they have a run attack, their corners aren’t really being pressured. We have a lot to live up to.”
Gilbert burst onto the college football scene this past season as a senior with the Cowboys, when he grabbed seven interceptions—returning a pair for touchdowns—in just 11 games. In addition to representing one of the best draft options available in defending the pass, Gilbert is also a dynamic returner in the kicking game. In his college career, Gilbert returned six kickoffs for touchdowns, averaging 26.3 yards per return.
“I think I’m a dangerous return man, and if I get the ball in my hands, it’s always a possibility that I’m going to take it to the house,” Gilbert said.
The Rams have displayed a commitment to developing the corner position under General Manager Les Snead and Head Coach Jeff Fisher, having drafted a corner in each of the past two drafts, in
Gilbert turned a few heads on Sunday, when he stated he would be ‘satisfied’ if he ran a 4.3-second 40-yard dash. His performance Tuesday showed that level of confidence is anything but fabricated.
“I think I’m the best corner in the draft," Gilbert said. “I’ve worked hard to be in the position that I am, and I’m not going to let anyone take that from me.”