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Prospect Profiles: Marcus Gilchrist

MARCUS GILCHRIST, CB/S, CLEMSON

Triangle Numbers: 5-10, 195, 4.51

Scouting Reports:

Sideline Scouting:

Positives: Adequate speed… Average height and weight, but appears to have solid frame, big enough to make plays in run coverage… Strong upper body, put up 26 reps of 225 pounds at the combine… Exceptional tackling statistics in 2009 before his move from strong safety to cornerback for the 2010 season (96 total, 53 solo, one sack and three forced fumbles)… Durability is not an issue, has not missed a single game due to injury… Is a versatile player who has the potential to play multiple positions in an NFL secondary, has experience at cornerback and both safety positions… Above-average run defender, is very tough for his size, is not afraid to initiate contact with larger backs… Is a solid zone defender, appears to be at his best when he can use his instincts and awareness to key in on quarterbacks… Has above-average kick return skills, was a solid replacement for C.J. Spiller in 2010, averaged 23.3 yards per kick return… Is an intelligent football player, knows his assignments and puts in a lot of time in the film room.

Negatives: Is just not a big playmaker, did not intercept a pass in his first three years at Clemson, misses a lot of opportunities when the ball is in the air… Takes a lot of false steps, especially when playing off his receiver, loses a step in his backpedal as a result… Shows stiff hips at times, does not come out of breaks very quickly in man coverage… Appears to be best suited in zone coverage or covering slot receivers in man-to-man, needs to polish up footwork and learn to play with looser hips… Plays with much too high of a backpedal at times, lifts up off the snap, which often results in sloppy footwork in the backpedal… Instincts in coverage are average at best, often takes too long to close in when the ball is in the air… Will probably be a better fit at safety than corner in the NFL, will be a project if he is to start at corner in the near future.

National Football Post:

Possesses decent size, but isn’t real physical in any area of the game.Safety/corner hybrid who showcases the ability to take good angles toward the football vs. the run game and is a decent wrap-up guy. However, isn’t a real physical striker, more of a drag down player who does a nice job breaking down on contact, but tends to simply catch ball carriers in most areas of the game.

Exhibits good footwork and balance in his drop and has the type of flexibility in his lower half to sit into his back-pedal, keep his feet under him, cleanly change directions and close on the football. Exhibits good balance when asked to redirect laterally and is able to quickly get out of his breaks and up to speed quickly. Displays good range in the deep half, tracks the football well sideline-to-sideline and possesses impressive ball skills and body control in jump ball situations. Is a coordinated athlete who knows how to go up and come down with the tough grab. However, isn’t the most instinctive of defensive backs at this stage, finds the football well vs. the run game, but struggles to consistently read the quarterback’s eyes and get early jumps on the football from the deep half. Also, struggles in coverage when asked to open up his hips. Doesn’t stay low enough out of his transition, gets too high and leggy and can be slow to flip and get back up to speed quickly down the field. Exhibits above-average speed, but is not a burner and lacks the ability to quickly make up for a false step. Displayed some natural man-to-man cover skills but was too often slow to react to the throw. Lacked a great feel when asked to sit on routes, didn’t get early jumps on the football, would get caught with his base being too wide at times in zone and gave up too much initial separation on all areas of the field.

Impression: Looks more like an NFL safety than corner to me. Possesses some natural athleticism, but could serve at worst as a solid nickel guy and work his way into a potential starter with some time.

FF Toolbox:

Marcus Gilchrist spent his first two years at Clemson spending most of his time on special teams and occasionally filling in at cornerback when necessary. Yet, even back then he showed plenty of potential and was coming on strong before the end of the 2008 campaign. That set Gilchrist up for a huge 2009 season when he moved to free safety.

In 2009 Clemson sported a superb secondary that had two players who were drafted in 2010 and another who will likely be drafted in 2011. However, Gilchrist still made a name for himself by tallying 107 tackles and breaking up six passes. Others — like DeAndre McDaniel who picked off eight passes — may have gotten more national attention, but Gilchrist still proved to be a very important piece to the Tigers’ defense and always seemed to be around the ball and get the job done. The bigger question for Gilchrist was heading into the 2010 campaign when not only did he have to hold down the secondary along with McDaniel, but Gilchrist also had to successfully make the move back to cornerback.

Gilchrist is obviously not making as many tackles as he did when he was at the free safety spot, but he is teaming up with McDaniel quite nicely and doing a relatively good job keeping the secondary productive. Through six games, Gilchrist leads the team with seven pass break-ups and has picked off one pass. He may not be the most athletic or physical corner in this class, but he is an experienced and versatile player who should be a solid third round selection.

3/22 Update: Gilchrist had a superb showing at the NFL Combine and his stock is slowly moving up. His ability to return kicks has separated him from some of the other cornerbacks in this class and that could be enough for Gilchrist to slip into the late second round. If not, he has certainly cemented his status as a third rounder.

VIDEO:

[pro-player width=’530′ height=’253′ type=’video’]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LltvYYNlgoA[/pro-player]

GiantsGab Thoughts:

Marcus Gilchrist is a versatile prospect, who played both safety and corner. Moved to corner his senior season and played well. Probably better suited to be a safety in the pros. Heady, aware defender, will fit will in Perry Fewell’s read and react scheme. Has kick return skills. Pretty good run defender. Can probably play corner in pinch, so will be a valuable roster member. 3rd or 4th round pick. Would probably be a star on special teams at first. Needs some work in pass coverage, improving instincts. But he’s a hard worker and would be a nice fit as a backup member of the secondary.

 

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