MSUM in the NFL: Exploring the possibility of Dragons standout Gibson playing at the next level

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John Miller

millerjoh@mnstate.edu

Former Dragons wide receiver Damon Gibson has a chance to do what only 2 percent of college football seniors do: make it to the NFL.

Gibson wrapped up his decorated Dragons career this year and has been getting attention from NFL scouts.

In January, he became the first Dragon to participate in the East-West Shrine game in Florida.

At the end of March, Gibson partook in NDSU’s pro day in front of scouts from 21 NFL teams, including the Vikings. He ran a 4.62 in the 40-yard dash and had a vertical jump of 37 1/2 inches at NDSU’s pro day.

A 4.62 in the 40 is slow for a wide receiver; however, even though he played wideout at MSUM for four years, Gibson projects to be a tight end in the NFL.

Since Gibson lacks the speed to outrun NFL cornerbacks, a change to tight end could benefit Gibson’s chances of landing on an NFL team via the draft.

Since Gibson lacks the speed to outrun NFL cornerbacks, he does have some strengths that make him a desirable NFL receiver.

For one, he is a big dude. At 6 feet 4 inches and 240 pounds, Gibson possesses good size, regardless of which receiver position he plays. Although he is large in stature, he has a quick initial burst that can create separation for short-yard receptions.

Gibson’s physicality can also carry into the NFL. He has the size and strength to push around the guy across from him to create space or block for a runner.

His experience playing multiple positions throughout his football career could bring an interesting perspective as well. Gibson played quarterback in high school, wide receiver at MSUM and potentially tight end in the NFL.

Gibson brings a lot to the table, but he also has several weaknesses.

He has subpar down-field speed and he may not be agile enough to shake NFL defensive backs and some faster linebackers on routes longer than 15 yards.

Another con, this one out of his control.

MSUM is a Division II school, so Gibson has not played against the top-tier college football players.

Along with facing lesser competition than many potential draft picks, Gibson’s physicality can hinder him at times according to nfl.com’s draft profile. He tends to run over cornerbacks rather than adjusting his route, which will surely draw pass interference penalties in the NFL.

Given Gibson’s abilities and shortcomings, will he be drafted? I don’t believe so.

He is ranked 30th amongst tight ends by Dane Brugler of nfldraftscout.com, and I haven’t seen Gibson in any mock drafts. I don’t think someone will spend a late-round pick on him.

That doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be in the NFL. I think he will be on an NFL team’s roster heading into training camp this summer after being signed as an undrafted free agent.

As far as which team will give Gibson a chance, I’m not certain. He could fit into an offense like Indianapolis which often seems to utilize tight ends in the passing game. With Gibson’s strength and athleticism, he could mesh with many NFL systems both as a blocker or pass catcher.

I would not be shocked if he wound up on the Vikings, as Minnesota seems to like homegrown, Division II NSIC talent (see: Adam Thielen).

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