Antonio Gibson, Memphis RB/WR
6-foot, 228 pounds, 31 1/8-inch arms, 8 5/8-inch hands
4.39u 40-yard dash, 16 Bench Reps, 35-inch Vertical Jump, 118-inch Broad Jump
Fourth-year Senior from Stockbridge, GA born on June 23, 1998
After being recruited from East Central Community College, Antonio Gibson received only six offensive touches in his first year at Memphis before an explosion in production during his senior season. Though he was recruited as a running back, Gibson primarily played in the slot in Memphis’ shotgun-spread attack, finishing second on the team in both rushing and receiving yards. He also led the team in kick return yards, averaging 28 yards on 23 returns. Gibson’s broad shoulders and a thick, muscular lower body stood out amongst the Senior Bowl RB group as the most physically impressive. His competitiveness and willingness to fill a variety of roles will help him latch on and contribute to an NFL roster.
As a receiver, Gibson lined up almost exclusively in the slot and ran mostly digs, outs, slants, curls, and screens. Gibson didn’t have much experience playing receiver before coming to Memphis and sitting behind Tony Pollard for a year, and it showed. He showcased adequate explosion getting in and out of breaks, but didn’t separate from man coverage with crisp route running. He has a good sense of where holes will be in zone coverage and recognized when to sit in vacated space. He wasn’t aggressive enough with the ball in the air, allowing defensive backs to occasionally knock him off his route and beat him to the catch point. As the year went on, Memphis quarterback Brady White stopped throwing curls to Gibson because he wouldn’t aggressively come back to the ball.
Though he had problems with aggression pre-catch, Gibson showed the opposite once the ball was in his hands. He has a returner’s mentality in the open field and utilizes subtle jukes and his powerful lower body to shed defensive backs with ease. He has a nose for the end zone and the ability to make a house call every time he has the ball in the open field. Gibson racked up seven total touchdowns that went 40-plus yards. His competitive fire also shows up as a stalk blocker, where he was rarely beaten when blocking on screens off the edge. He was never asked to pass block from the backfield, which may hold him back from becoming a regular contributor early in his career.
Gibson wasn’t a featured option as a runner for Memphis, and nearly all of his carries came on stretch runs out of a shotgun split-back formation or on jet sweeps. Gibson runs upright with a decisive, slashing running style. He showed good contact balance to bounce off would-be tacklers in traffic at the second level, and continuously drives his legs through contact to muscle for extra yards. It’s clear that Gibson has the mindset of a returner in the open field, as it seems like he has a plan for how to navigate through defenders and an innate sense of how to manipulate their pursuit angles. While he shows good burst and acceleration, his build up speed makes Gibson a threat to hit a home run as soon as he turns the corner.
To improve as a runner Gibson needs to become more patient with letting his blocks develop. All too often he tries to get the ball and immediately turn on the jets rather than waiting for a hole to open. Although his lower body strength helps him run through defenders at the second level, his high pad level is insufficient for short yardage opportunities near the line of scrimmage. While Memphis hardly ever used a fullback, they often asked Gibson to lead block from split-backs sets and wildcat looks. He was chippy and more than competent when blocking linebackers on both seal blocks and kick-outs.
Gibson projects as a change-of-pace running back and gadget guy early in his career, but his combination of versatility, speed and power give him a quite a high ceiling. His experience in the slot will help him become a dynamic pass-catching threat out of the backfield and his ability to break off big plays will coax creative offensive coaches into getting him the ball in a variety of ways. It will take time for Gibson to develop as a pass blocker, and he really only had one season as a starter in college, but teams that value offensive versatility will place a premium on Gibson’s potential.