Mark Gilbert, CB, Duke
Listed Measurements: 6-1, 175 pounds
2017 Statistics: 35 tackles, 15 pass breakups, six interceptions
Background Info/Accolades: Gilbert is a 3-star recruit from Fayetteville, North Carolina. His uncle, Sean Gilbert, was the No. 3 overall pick in 1992 by the Los Angeles Rams and went onto play 12 seasons in the NFL. His cousin is seven-time Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis. Gilbert was born on June 1, 1997 and also lettered in basketball in high school.
Gilbert has started 16 of 25 career games for Duke, including all 13 in 2017 where he received First team All-ACC honors and was the leading vote-getter among cornerbacks in ACC balloting. He also received Duke’s Willis Aldridge Award as the Blue Devils’ top defensive back for 2017.
Why you should watch Gilbert in 2018
What jumps off the tape regarding Gilbert’s skill set is how sound he is at playing the ball in the air. The game appears to slow down for him at the catch point and he does an outstanding job of positioning himself to attack the football and disrupt passes at the catch point. Gilbert precisely tracks the football over his shoulder with his back to the line of scrimmage and attacks it forward, routinely playing through the receivers hands.
And when he has a chance to finish a play with an interception, Gilbert has natural hands to secure takeaways.
Used a variety of ways, Gilbert operates with an apparent natural feel in coverage. Gilbert is sticky in man coverage with effective pattern-matching ability to all levels of the field. Duke trusted Gilbert routinely on an island in man coverage, particularly isolated over the x receiver in 3x1 looks and he held his own.
In zone coverage, Gilbert does well to anticipate patterns and illustrates a sound understanding of coverage spacing. He effectively leverages routes, knows where his help is and excels at squeezing routes while reading the backfield. And while he’s not an ideal candidate for regular duty in press coverage, Duke uses him in that capacity and he shows good timing and technique with his hands in the contact window.
When presented with opportunities to make tackles in space, Gilbert does well to come to balance and wrap up at the thighs.
Where he needs to show improvement
Listed at 6-foot-1 and 175 pounds Gilbert’s lack of bulk shows up tape. While he has a chance to add play strength and improve in his junior season, Gilbert struggled to get play off contact and beat blocks as a d-gap defender in run support. Receivers had no issues sealing him in space and taking him away in pursuit.
While Gilbert shows good timing and technique with his hands in press coverage, he lacks redirect strength to truly jam and re-route receivers in the contact window to disrupt timing.
Lastly, Gilbert lack top end recovery speed and burst out of his transitions. He has a tendency to get flat footed and he doesn’t have the most springy footwork. His play speed and quickness is modest which limits his upside in off man coverage in the NFL.
There’s so much to like about Gilbert’s ball skills and ability to perform in a variety of looks while consistently trusting his technique. His overall football intelligence is outstanding and he always plays under control. With that said, his modest physical traits and play strength are causes for concern.
Another big season in terms of ball production will be helpful, but a quicker and more physical Gilbert in 2018 is the best thing for his draft stock.