Dean Lowry on one side. Deonte Gibson on the other. That's a matchup nightmare, and that's what Northwestern had last year during a historic campaign for its defense. A guy with a powerful upper body and good burst, Gibson was at times the superior of the two players. A phenomenal performance at Wisconsin earned him Co-Defensive Player of the Week in the Big Ten.
The biggest thing working against Gibson is his position at the next level. In all likelihood, he'll have to make the conversion from defensive end to outside linebacker — he's not tall or long enough to be a defensive end. At his new position, he'll have to overcome that lack of height, but his relentless motor and solid speed might help him earn a spot on an NFL roster, even if he goes undrafted.
|40-yd dash||Bench press reps||Vertical jump||Broad Jump||3 cone drill||20-yd shuttle|
|Height||Weight||Arm length||Hand size||Wingspan|
|6'1"||261 lbs||33.3 in.||9.3 in.||83.3 in.|
Gibson hurt himself running his first 40-yard dash at Northwestern's pro day, and didn't complete any of the drills afterward.
- Gibson has the ability to just take over games, or at least he did in college when matched up one-on-one with an opposing tackle. He has good burst off the line of scrimmage and a solid array of moves. He uses his hands very well, and when he beats his man to the point of attack, he knows how to get by him.
- Gibson ran very well in his first attempt at Pro Day (4.68), and that speed was on display on the field in his senior season. Once Gibson beat his man, he was quick to track down opposing quarterbacks (team-leading 9.0 sacks as a senior) or running backs and get a hit on them. He took good pursuit angles and was generally a solid tackler who could really blow up opposing players when in position. He used his above-average speed to play well in space, as you'll see in his tape.
- Height is the most concerning thing for Gibson at the next level, although height isn't requisite to make a good outside linebacker. General managers usually look for a guy 6-foot-2 or taller, and Gibson stands at 6-foot-1. There isn't anything he can really do to fix that, though.
- Transitioning from DE to OLB. The NFL is played at a completely different pace than college ball, and changing positions makes adjusting to that change in pace all the more difficult. Gibson will have to show he can learn and master the various types of coverages as well as have the ability to run with tight ends and running backs side-to-side and vertically.
Gibson's highlight tape is mighty impressive against some really good competition. The aforementioned Wisconsin game was his best, but he also had 2.5 against Michigan. He can lower the boom on his tackles, too.
Here are two plays that really stand out from the film. In the first, Gibson drops back into coverage, reads the play and makes a solid tackle after beating the offensive lineman trying to block him. This is something he'll be asked to do a lot at the next level. In the second play — the biggest of his career — Gibson drives his man into the backfield before swiping inside. He keeps his balance amidst a pile, breaks out of it and tracks down Joel Stave for a huge sack.
|Year||Games||Tackles||Tackles for loss||Sacks||Forced Fumbles||Fumbles Recovered||Interceptions||Passes Deflected|
Gibson's senior year was by far his most productive, which was good to see, especially after a down junior year. Interestingly enough, he had only two passes batted down, perhaps a result of his lack of height. He also had zero career interceptions. His 9 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss his senior year was very impressive and helped him earn Third Team All-Big Ten honors.
Pro Football Focus has Gibson rated as the 66th-best defensive end in the draft (out of 171) and projects him to go undrafted.
ESPN ranks Gibson as the 50th best defensive end and does not have him ranked as an overall prospect.
CBS Sports has Gibson ranked as the 66th-best defensive end and the number 874 prospect overall.
None of the sites have Gibson getting drafted.
Gibson is deemed an outside linebacker at the next level, and his lack of experience there, paired with some concerns about his height, push him off the draft board. He will surely be picked up by someone, though, and if Gibson can learn coverage schemes, prove he can cover guys downfield and stop the run as well as he did at Northwestern, he could find a place to stick.