'Why Antonio Gibson?'
Gibson had the attention of NFL offensive coordinators after an impressive performance at the 2020 NFL Combine.
Being deployed at both receiver & running back during his Junior season gives him an intriguing ceiling as a playmaker with the Washington Redskins.
What is the appeal of Gibson besides impressive surface level traits?
1 - Through contact skill set
Gibson’s ability to navigate through collisions and create solutions for different contact types is one of his most beneficial skills. It is also something that will aid in his transition to potentially becoming a full-time running back.
Notice how Gibson negates contact with his feet.
He can push - pause - redirect extremely well and doesn’t rush getting upfield.
This is the signature play of Gibson’s career as a Tiger.
He doesn’t ‘fight’ contact, he remains calm, rides it out then optimizes his leverage so he can use the momentum of the defender as torque to break free.
Another impressive part about this is how quickly he reacts and creates a solution to the defender coming downhill.
At one point this is a four on one engagement.
Timing is how Gibson wins here.
Notice the element of creating torque again.
We talk about the contact types (high - low - direct - indirect).
Gibson does well with all of these.
He is adept at creating solutions through contact, and can stay on balance through simultaneous collision periods.
One of the reasons Gibson is a great in-space ball carrier is due to his recognition of where contact is coming from as well as the type of potential force he is going to encounter.
This is an innate, instinctual element that cannot be easily taught.
2 - Short area instincts
His instincts were touched on above, and are an underrated element to Gibson’s overarching skill set as a player.
Gibson is consistent at rapidly diagnosing problems, and is able to find physical solutions with a blend of quickness & power.
What I enjoy about this play was that he uses his lineman for both balance as well as a barricade between him and #8.
You can see the physical capabilities that are easy to spot with Gibson, but it's the between the ears skill set that he possesses that leaves me impressed and spotlights his potential.
Something that continually shows up when you watch Gibson play running back is his patience when moving downhill.
Notice how he doesn’t immediately accelerate upfield.
Gibson takes three slalom steps, then waits until the right moment to re-accelerate up the boundary.
This is a big reason to me why we may be looking at a complete three-down back, especially in a zone heavy scheme.
3 - Play speed
His 4.39 40 yard dash at 228lbs is nearing elite territory for his size.
An area where this may shine right away is as a kick returner.
He has the instincts, acceleration capabilities and the top-end speed to be an immediate threat here.
His speed shows up on deeper patterns as a receiver, and is an area where he may be frequently deployed, even when playing running back.
Something you also can’t downplay is the experience Gibson has as a field-stretcher and the ease in which he can create separation.
4 - Skill set as a receiver
(Gibson is in the slot, near side)
This is where it gets interesting.
Is Gibson a complete receiver?
No, but he is more diverse in his capabilities at the position than first glance may provide.
Watch how he changes the tempo of the route and quickly accelerates out of his break.
(Gibson is at the bottom of the screen)
Yes, this is fantastic catch by Damonte Coxie, but watch how Gibson gets himself open here and the reaction from the defensive back.
Gibson is a good accelerator and can chain his capabilities there laterally which will make him difficult for slot corners and linebackers to handle.
This is a rep that needs to be replicated with greater consistency.
Notice the quick peek at the near hash to catch a false step from the defender.
Gibson creates separation with his eyes and then his feet here.
This is going to be a running back we’re talking about, keep that in mind.
While this will not be a common occurrence at the next level, Gibson displays he can function, and adjust while the ball is in flight.
A large amount of the damage he did as a receiver came from the slot in 2019.
5 - Lack of technical & mechanical refinement
This is a big reason Gibson needs time to develop into a clearly defined role.
He has a good amount of plays like this where he makes the wrong decision or simply lacks precision.
Gibson's capabilities as a accelerator are well documented.
However, we see that as a receiver he can be passive, and neglect aggression & precision through his breaks.
Gibson does not have a lot of on-field experience and it wasn’t until midway through 2019 that we saw him command a larger touch & target share.
Another area where Gibson can grow is his physicality when attacking the football.
At nearly 230lbs he shouldn’t have a problem outplaying smaller defenders.
6 - Landing spot: Washington Redskins
Antonio Gibson garnered high praise from Coach Ron Rivera who views Gibson as a great combination of runner/receiver.
With Guice's health issues and the uncertainty surrounding Bryce Love, there is a very good chance Gibson gets to showcase his skill set in 2020 and potentially cement himself as the Redskins' back of the future.
7 - 'Who is Antonio Gibson?'
There are a few players in this 2020 class that don't have a true position due to the versatility they present as a playmakers. Antonio Gibson along with Laviska Shenault Jr. and Lynn Bowden Jr. share this strength. Gibson averaged otherworldly numbers of 15.25 yards per touch while scoring a touchdown every six touches. One of the main concerns about Gibson is his lack of experience while at Memphis. He only had a half season of production and has never had a game over 15 touches. Even though Gibson is big-play threat, the type of inconsistency he saw in terms of touch share should not be ignored.
As a running back, we saw a vast majority of his touches come from a split backfield. In the NFL he will more than likely be deployed all over the field while he grows into a potentially significant role as a traditional rusher. As as receiver, he lined up in the slot with greater frequency than on the outside, and presents the opportunity for mismatches on linebackers and nickel corners.
As far as potential for fantasy relevance, it will depend largely on usage. His historic per touch production likely won't be replicated at the NFL level and he will need to see a consistent workload to sustain fantasy relevance. As a running back, he does have the short area instincts and through contact qualities that could lead to him becoming an every-down player in the right situation. His pass catching upside is what could give him a nice floor in the right offense.
We're more than likely looking an athletically gifted, raw developmental prospect with a high ceiling/ low and volatile offensive floor. Gibson is a player that could very well have a greater impact in real life than in fantasy lineups due to his ability to contribute on special teams.
Lack of experience