Despite a wobbly Spring, Shelton Gibson brings explosive potential to Eagles WR corps

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The Philadelphia Eagles had a problem coming out of the 2016 season. Despite finding the franchise quarterback they were so desperately in need of, they lacked any true difference makers at the WR position. Jordan Matthews has been pretty darn good over his first few years, but with a little bit of a drop problem and having never reached 1,000 yards, he and the rest of the corps left Eagles fans and the front office wanting more. Fast forward to early 2017 and the birds seemed to have answered the question that everyone has been asking…”Will the Birds’ get any real help for Carson Wentz?”

Needless to say the team did the right thing in adding Wideouts Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith via free-agency. At this point when looking at the team’s roster, the idea of Jeffery, Smith, and Matthews inspires a little bit of hope for the passing game for the upcoming season. Add to it former 1st round pick Nelson Agholor, who seems to have had a boost early on in the offseason, and he future looks much brighter. Despite the free agency additions, the team scoured the draft for more talent to develop, coming away with the big bodied Mack Hollins and West Virginias Shelton Gibson, a speedster that can take the top off of defenses.

Between the two draft picks, Hollins has been the more notable during the spring workout program, running clean routes, catching everything thrown his way, and standing out to teammates and coaches alike. Gibson on the other hand, has not inspired much confidence in the media as he seemed to have struggled with holding onto passes, both in team and individual drills. The truth is, it isn’t the issue that some are making it out to be. Yes, dropping passes is a problem and one that has plagued the Eagles WR core over the past few years. But because of this issue, a drop here and there, gives fans flashbacks of problems past, leaving them with a lack of confidence…when in reality, we still are yet to see Gibson put on a shell at the NFL level.

Coach Pederson has every confidence in new WR coach Mike Groh to get things corrected over time. After all, he has been credited with helping WR’s Alshon Jeffery and newly acquired Cleveland Brown, Kenny Britt, with having career years. You can already see his stamp all over Nelson Agholor, with the USC product showing shades of his USC prowess during the early stages in the offseason.

With all that said, Shelton Gibson is far from a cause for concern. In fact, he possesses the skillset to be a real problem for defenses in this Eagles passing game. Have you ever heard the saying “Speed Kills?” Well, if that is the truth, then Gibson is a defense killer. (Okay, no more dumb jokes)

The 5’11, 190 lbs, Cleveland, Ohio native, was an issue for opposing defenses at West Virginia, playing in both the slot as well as from the outside. The rapid wideout ended his collegiate career with 84 receptions, 1,898 yards and a whopping 17 touchdowns, all while averaging 22.6 yards per reception. Considered a one trick pony by some, Gibson took that one trick to another level at times. A threat to score from anywhere on the field defenses spent a lot of time with one eye on the offense and the other solely on him. Despite being considered a deep threat, Gibson adds value all over the field. Playing him on the outside, gives you a burner that can run most routes consistently and create separation. Playing from the slot, he is a match up nightmare. When moving him around, defenses get confused trying to stick with him…causing a break in the levy.

Slower, less athletic safeties struggle to cover him deep, while LB’s and nickel corners have a hard time staying with him in shallow crossing patterns…an area where he strives. Although he isn’t considered the biggest prospect, he is a thick 190 lbs , and has a steady base, which helps him create yards after the catch. Constantly compared to former Eagles WR, DeSean Jackson for obvious reasons, his body type is closer to that of another former Birds’ wideout, Josh Huff, while Lance Zierlein of NFL.com compares him to 2016 1st round pick, Corey Coleman. Gibson is simply an explosion waiting to happen, and a player who can take a short yardage pass to the house within the blink of an eye.

There has been plenty of unwarranted talk about Gibson dropping passes early on. It’s easy to see why it would become news so quickly in the City of Brotherly Love, with drops still haunting the nightmares of fans across Philadelphia. But putting extra weight on a wide receiver who has been nothing short of exceptional throughout his time at WVU is just unnecessary.

There is no rush for Gibson to be a starter right away and with his special teams value, there will be plenty for him to do while getting his confidence and learning the professional game of football. Shelton Gibson could be a huge weapon for this Eagles offense, one they’ve missed since the end of the Andy Reid era. And if Gibson lives up to even a flash of his potential, the drops during individual workouts won’t be remembered. Touchdowns will.

 

Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

 

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