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NFL Combine Primer: Can Gibson Become the Next First-Round Selection for WVU?

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In a weak receiver class and speed to burn, can Shelton Gibson make a huge jump at the combine?

TCU v West Virginia Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Shelton Gibson surprised some people when he declared himself eligible for the NFL Draft. A redshirt junior, Gibson has led the Mountaineers in receiving yards the past two years but has never broken 1,000 yards. Gibson is an intriguing prospect with speed to burn. He also served as the Mountaineers’ kickoff return man the past two years.

What They Are Saying

WalterFootball.com

Sources say that Gibson has some real speed to him, but isn't the biggest of receivers and needs to improve his route-running. That was an issue for 2015 Bears first-round pick Kevin White coming out West Virginia because of the Mountaineers' spread offense. Some sources think Gibson should return for his senior year to improve on that before going pro, but in a weak receiver class, he could make the leap considering he is being projected into the early rounds.

RotoWorld

Draft Analyst's Tony Pauline "continue[s] to hear" that West Virginia WR Shelton Gibson is moving up draft boards.

Pauline hears that Gibson "should run the 40 in the 4.3s at the combine," a development which would "only enhance his draft stock." The 5-foot-11, 188-pounder is a pure burner who can pop the lid off of coverages.

Where Shelton Can Open Eyes

Shelton’s number one attribute is his speed. He consistently showed the ability to separate from defensive backs in the Big 12. Shelton was West Virginia’s deep-passing threat. The 40-yard dash is going to make or break Shelton’s combine. If Shelton is able to come in and post a time under 4.40 seconds, teams will immediately take notice. If Shelton is able to break 4.35 seconds, much like Tavon Austin running an unofficial 4.24 in 2012, then teams will really take notice.

After the 40-yard dash, the gauntlet will be Shelton’s next chance to show off his skills. The Gauntlet is my favorite drill to determine wide receivers. It asks receivers to catch a ball thrown straight at them, spin 180 degrees, catch another ball, then sprint across the field catching 5 passes thrown from 5 different throwers, 3 to one side of the player and two to the other side. Once the player reaches the other sideline, he then plants his foot and sprints to the end zone.

This drill requires that a player catch the ball in front of his body. Is he a hands catcher or will he trap the ball with his body. Can he run, catch, secure, then drop the ball without losing speed? Is he able to determine where the sideline is and get his feet down, plant and make a football move. It absolutely determines the players who can play versus the ones who need help. If Shelton is able to snatch balls out of the air with his hands, maintain his speed across the field and plant on the sidelines, teams will once again be forced to re-evaluate him.

What To Expect

Shelton is fast. He is going to run well at the combine. However, he has a very limited route-tree. I would argue that Shelton’s route tree is less developed than Kevin White’s and White’s route tree was very basic. Shelton was hampered by quarterback play the last two year and really could have developed into a more polished route runner and better wide receiver with Will Grier throwing to him.

Shelton needs to run well and I expect he will be in the 4.3’s. Shelton’s hands are not as big or as great as grabbing passes out of the air when thrown to him. He is an amazing tracker as evidence by his ability to go get deep passes. That would be a hidden gem that teams could fall in love with Shelton. When the receiver drills come up, watch to see how well Shelton is able to go get those deep passes.