PRO 2020 Rookie Spotlight: Antonio Gibson, RB Memphis

Rookie Spotlight: Antonio Gibson, University of Memphis
Height: 6’ 0 3/8” (official)
Weight: 228 lbs (official)
Hands: 8 5/8”
Arm: 31 1/8”
40 yard dash: 4.39 (official)
NFL Comparison: Jaylen Samuels, Tony Pollard, Joe Mixon, Kalen Ballage

– capable pass catcher
– runs through contact
– rare size/speed combo
– extremely agile
– good vision
– impressive body control
– unbelievable short-area vision and burst

– pass protection
– small hands/body catcher
– raw prospect
– comes in without concrete position on offense
– very little production in college

2019 Team Market Share Numbers

6% rush attempts
14% receptions
16% total offensive yards
18% total TDs

(all on just 77 total touches)

Scouting Notes: Antonio Gibson is a joy to watch in the open field. It’s almost like watching a linebacker in ballet shoes, as he either powers through defenders or evades them with adept lateral agility and then speeds his way down the field. And, if Gibson does get by the secondary, then it’s almost a guaranteed six points, as he’s virtually impossible to track down from behind with deceptive 4.39 speed. Even if someone caught him, his massive trunk will stymie any efforts to tackle him from behind. At the Senior Bowl, Gibson was among the most impressive running backs at practices. When South teammate Ke’Shawn Vaughn pulled out of the even with an injury, it piled a good bit of volume on Gibson’s plate for the rest of the week and he did everything he could to take advantage. Most notable was a Kareem Hunt-level of acceleration from the LOS to the second and third levels of the defense as a runner. When you add on the fact that he’s basically a good enough receiver to have worked out with receivers at the combine, you start to piece together a drool-worthy skillset that seems to have not been fully utilized to its potential at the college level at Memphis, much in the mold of Tony Pollard.

Gibson began his admittedly short two year career at Memphis as a receiver, and though his route tree was limited and he tends to round his breaks on the routes he does run, he was always just one step away from the big play. In that time, Gibson only touched the ball 77 times, but he didn’t need a lot of touches to do major damage. Against SMU, he had 386 yards and 3 TDs on just 12 touches. In that one he also showed off his vision as a returner, as he racked up 159 yards and a score on 3 returns. Unfortunately, his vision as a running back is lacking comparatively, as he’s often impatient in waiting for his blocks and he doesn’t seem to have the same instincts in a crowd as he does in the open field. For that reason, he looks better suited to run sweeps and plays to the perimeter on film. However, our evaluation from the Senior Bowl week of practices have no negative marks for Gibson in inside-run drills, leading us to believe he can operate better in this capacity with higher-level athletes blocking for him.

As a pass catcher out of the backfield, Gibson is effective, but he has small hands that often let the ball into his body. He’s also very inexperienced in pass protection, as he was literally never asked to do it. One would think he’ll be able to improve in that area considering his size though. Gibson told RosterWatch at the combine that most of the NFL teams he’s spoken with see him as a running back who can also play at WR despite his classification as a WR for the event. He says that’s where he feels he best fits and we 100% agree — he’s an offensive weapon, but should be considered an RB first and foremost until an NFL team tells us otherwise once they draft him.

Fantasy Outlook: Gibson is one of the best athletes in the draft (he’s an 83rd percentile athlete among WRs!), but there are questions concerning his ability to thrive consistently in the NFL. He’s very inexperienced on the whole, and while that means he’s fresher than many prospects, he’s also rawer. He’s a jack of many trades. I’m just not sure that teams are going to know what to do with him on a play by play basis, and that’s important in season-long fantasy formats. He doesn’t project to be 3-down back in the traditional sense, though his prototypical size would suggest he fits the mold. That being said, Gibson is a gamer and a playmaker, and teams are slowly figuring out how to get players of his ilk the ball more regularly. He’s well worth a flyer in dynasty, as we wait and see what kind of system he lands in.

From the Memphis Athletic Department:

Appeared in 28 games in two seasons at Memphis after playing two seasons at East Central Community College … Had 44 catches for 834 yards and 10 touchdowns in his two years … Also added 33 rushes for 369 yards and four touchdowns and 24 kick returns … Finished with 24 kickoff returns for 97 total yards and a touchdown.

2019 (Senior)
2019 American Athletic Conference Special Teams Player of the Year … 2019 AAC second team all-conference at wide receiver … Appeared in all 14 games as Memphis went 12-2, won the American Athletic Conference championship and made the program’s first-ever New Years Six bowl game with a Cotton Bowl berth … Had 28 catches for 735 yards and eight touchdowns as a senior, averaging 19.3 yards per catch … Also added 33 rushes for 369 yards and four touchdowns (11.2 ypc) as a multi-talented threat in a Memphis offense that ranked eighth in the country with 40.4 ppg and 1th with 485.1 yards per game … Took over as the Tigers’ primary kick returner on the graduation of NCAA career leader Tony Pollard … Took 23 returns 645 yards, including one 97-yard kickoff return against then-undefeated SMU … His 28.0 yards per kick return ranked ninth in FBS … Scored a touchdown three different ways in the game against SMU…Had six catches for 130 yards and a touchdown, three rushes for 97 yards and a touchdown and three kickoff returns for 159 yards and one touchdown … Was named the Walter Camp Football Foundation national offensive player of the week after that 54-48 win over #15/14 SMU … In the AAC Championship game, with Memphis leading 27-24, his 29 yard rush for a touchdown with 3:16 to go helped give Memphis the final 34-24 score and the program’s first AAC outright championship in its third championship game appearance … In the Cotton Bowl against the stout defense of #10 ranked Penn State, had six catches for 99 yards … Invited to play in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.

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