The WVU football program produces all kinds of skill players for the NFL – Tavon Austin, Charles Sims, Kevin White to name a few. With the NFL draft looming, Shelton Gibson is next in line.
Gibson piled up 84 catches during his three-year career at WVU. He amassed 1,898 receiving yards and caught 17 touchdowns. He also returned 53 kickoffs in his career for 1,244 yards and a touchdown. These aren’t other-worldly numbers by any stretch, but the opportunities in Morgantown were spread out evenly like cream cheese on a freshly-toasted bagel.
The Mountaineers boasted four receivers with at least 35 catches in 2016, and that doesn’t even take into account the dominant West Virginia rushing attack.
Gibson led the ‘Eers with eight touchdown receptions and was fourth in the country with a 22.12 yards per catch average. This is where he separates himself from the pack – both literally and figuratively; he simply runs past defenders. Gibson only ran a 4.5 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, but recorded a 4.39 at WVU’s pro day. One anonymous AFC South scout had high praise for the speedy Mountaineer.
"“He will end up being one of the three fastest players at the combine. He’s got ridiculous speed. He runs by people like they are standing still like DeSean Jackson used to do at Cal.”"
Seven of Gibson’s 17 career touchdown catches came from greater than 50 yards. This is exactly the type of thing scouts are looking for, guys to take the top of the defense off. Three of his TDs came in the red-zone, so it’s not fair to label Gibson as just a deep threat; he can get it done all over the field.
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A more recent comparison for Gibson would be the Houston Texans Will Fuller. Coming out of Notre Dame, Fuller was thought of as a speedster with some concentration issues that resulted in drops. He burst out of the gate his rookie season with back-to-back 100-yard performances, but failed to eclipse the century mark again all year.
Assuming a team doesn’t place the weight of their franchise on his shoulders, Gibson should be able to carve out a nice niche in an offense needing talent. With 4.4 speed and a knack for getting open deep, Gibson holds all the tools necessary to contribute day one in the NFL. A team like the Bengals would benefit greatly adding a player like Gibson opposite A.J. Green. Even the Cowboys could use a No. 3 wide receiver to open things up for Dak Prescott and Dez Bryant. Wherever he lands, remember this; speed is one thing you can’t teach.