NFL Early Outlook: CB Justin Gilbert and the Cleveland Browns



Last season, the Seattle Seahawks showed the world something that most NFL coaches already knew – defense is what really wins championships. After the Seahawks completely dismantled Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl, the rest of the NFL became more focused on defensive players, and because of this, the Cleveland Browns are now a much better team.

Going into the 2014 NFL draft, most of the focus was on Johnny “Football” Manziel. Originally, he was supposed to go in the top three, and when this didn’t work out, he was expected to go to the Cleveland Browns with the 8th overall pick. Instead, the Browns went with a defensive approach and drafted CB Justin Gilbert instead of Manziel with the top-10 pick. Somehow, Manziel managed to drop all the way to the 22nd overall pick, and the Browns were able to draft him as well.

Though Manziel has been much of the focus, Justin Gilbert will be the real difference maker for the Cleveland Browns next season.


Already, the Cleveland Browns had one of the best cornerbacks in the entire NFL. Last season, CB Joe Haden was an absolute beast, and many even compare his skill set to Seattle Seahawks star CB Richard Sherman. However, he was only one player, so teams always had a way out. Any team with more than one talented receiver would just throw the ball to the player that Haden was not covering, and it would usually work out well because the rest of the CBs and safeties on the team were not as talented. Because of this, the Browns knew that their defense had to be improved before everything else. So they drafted Gilbert.

So far, in OTAs, Gilbert has been outstanding. He has been a shutdown player, he has been picking off Johnny Manziel, and he is really impressing the coaching staff and management. Size wise, Gilbert is perfect. At 6’0 and 200 pounds of pure muscle, with a very quick 40 yard dash time, Gilbert is very comparable to the top CBs in the league, and is far better than the 5’10 CBs that have been drafted in recent years.

Gilbert is also known for his great vertical leap. This should help with the bigger receivers in the league, especially those over 6’3.

Next season, Gilbert will be a starter on opening day, and he will pick up on whatever half of the field that Haden is not covering.  Similar to Richard Sherman, Gilbert is often able to create fake reads that quarterbacks buy into, and because of this, he has the ability to create a lot of opportunities for his defense to get interceptions, and he creates more time for the offensive line to collapse on the opposing quarterback. This tandem of Gilbert and Haden might be the best in the league.

At worst, they are just as good as the Revis and Browner combination in New England. Get ready for a huge year.

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