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Justin Gilbert to get “every opportunity” to win starting job

Cleveland Browns Introduce Justin Gilbert and Johnny Manziel Getty Images

The Browns have spent a lot of time since the draft discussing their plans for the quarterback position after drafting Johnny Manziel in the first round.

Manziel wasn’t their only first-round pick, though, and he’s not the only one trying to earn a starting job sooner rather than later. Cornerback Justin Gilbert was the eighth overall selection in May and the team has been focused on working with him on the fundamentals of the press-man coverage they want their outside cornerbacks to play.

Joe Haden has one starting spot locked down and Buster Skrine has been working across from him for now, but defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil says that Gilbert will have “every opportunity to win” the gig during training camp. Coach Mike Pettine said that it is a “huge advantage” to have two corners who are strong in man coverage and that Gilbert is learning what it takes to do that in the NFL.

“He’s on the learning curve,” Pettine said, via Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal. “He’s kind of put himself in some situations where he’s testing his ability to make up [ground against receivers]. I think a lot of corners — I don’t want to say play scared — but they’ll stay on top, and they get beat underneath a lot. I think the elite guys can let a guy get slightly past them, but know with their make-up speed and their length that they can still make a play on the ball. I think that’s what this time is for. [He's] kind of testing his limits and getting used to the speed of the NFL game and NFL receivers.”

Skrine is not that kind of corner, so Gilbert’s chances of winning that job are going to be good as long as he shows the potential to give Pettine and the Browns what they want in the secondary. His bid won’t garner nearly as much coverage as Manziel’s push for a starting job, but the benefits to the Browns will be enormous if Gilbert can make throwing to both sides of the field a losing proposition for opposing offenses.

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8 Responses to “Justin Gilbert to get “every opportunity” to win starting job”
  1. crownofthehelmet says: Jun 16, 2014 10:34 AM

    You’ll get your chance Gilbert. I’m certain that after Wk 1, the D coordinator will feel like benching both Haden and Skrine.

  2. audient says: Jun 16, 2014 10:38 AM

    Justin Gilbert is going to be great opposite Haden, and there should still be opportunities for Skrine in some defensive packages, emphasizing his strengths.

    Manziel Mania has overshadowed was stands to be a huge pick in Justin Gilbert. Thanks for showing him some love, PFT.

  3. dhragonn says: Jun 16, 2014 10:49 AM

    Browns D is legit

  4. johnnytambourine says: Jun 16, 2014 10:49 AM

    Maybe Darqueze Dennard should coach him on the fundamentals of the press-man coverage

  5. clownsfan says: Jun 16, 2014 11:02 AM

    Love the 2 CB picks Farmer & Co drafted.Along w/the FA depth they’ve added this group gas the potential to be one of, if not thee, top Secondaries in the league.

  6. godofwine330 says: Jun 16, 2014 11:37 AM

    I agree with Clownsfan. I really love the two corners we drafted. I actully compare Desir with John Stallworth. Both were drafted in the 4th round from Division 1A (or whatever they are calling it now) schools with really big numbers against that competition and would have been drafted much higher had they played at D1 schools. Desir had 25 INTs in college, which is a huge number against any competition, 1A or not, and if he can turn it up the same way playing better competition we will have one helluva defensive backfield.

    Gilbert can be special in his own right. Didn’t have the big INT numbers that Desir had, but did have 5 in 2011 and 7 in 2013 with 2TDs so he can actually catch and isn’t strictly a PBU corner. Once he learns press man and gets comfortable with it then the sky is the limit. I can’t wait to see them in action. Go Browns!!!

  7. oldcracker says: Jun 16, 2014 3:31 PM

    I don’t know what to expect from the Browns offense, what with the new coaching regime and new players but, the defense should make each game a lot of fun to watch.

    With Desir’s ability to intercept balls, could he be trained and used as a WR if need be?

    In Ray we trust!

  8. kwjsb says: Jun 16, 2014 5:00 PM

    Gilbert will be to Haden
    as
    Dixon was to Minnifield.

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