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June 23, 2017

Eagles rookie NFL player comparisons: Shelton Gibson

During the dead period of the NFL calendar, as we did in 2015 and in 2016, we'll be comparing each of the Eagles' rookies to current or retired NFL players. Today, we'll take a look at fifth-round wide receiver Shelton Gibson.

In case you missed the first five entries of this series, you can find them here:

• First round: DE Derek Barnett 
• Second round: CB Sidney Jones 
• Third round: CB Rasul Douglas 
• Fourth round: WR Mack Hollins
Fourth round: RB Donnel Pumphrey

At West Virginia, Gibson was a big-time deep threat who could take the top off a defense. Here were his numbers over the last two seasons:

 Shelton GibsonRec Yards YPC TD 
 201537 887 24.0 
 201643 951 22.1 8 
 TOTAL80 1838 23.0 17 

Gibson didn't make a lot of catches, but when he did, they were big ones. He was a one-trick pony, but when that trick is catching occasional passes deep down the field and averaging 23 yards a pop when you do, you're going to get drafted.

During Eagles spring practices, Gibson did not look good, earning a spot among our five players who did not impress during OTAs and minicamp, with the following explanation:

Seemingly every day, Gibson struggled with dropped passes, many of which occurred during individual drills with no defenders on the field. Gibson is coming from an unsophisticated offense at West Virginia, so he has some ground to make up in the pros mentally, but that has little to do with him dropping routine catches.

It's pretty clear early on that Gibson is not going to contribute immediately, and he may even end up on the practice squad if he is unable to work through some of his early struggles in training camp.

If Gibson can get past his early struggles and carve out a career in the NFL, a player who makes sense as a comparison is Aldrick Robinson, who has played for the Redskins and Falcons, and will play for the 49ers in 2017.

Robinson was drafted by the Redskins in the sixth round of the 2011 NFL Draft and did not make the 53-man roster, eventually landing on the practice squad. In 2012 and 2013, he made the team and was able to contribute the occasional big play. Here were his numbers those two years:

 Aldrick RobinsonRec Yards YPC TD 
 201211 237 21.5 
 201318 365 20.3 2 
 TOTAL29 602 20.8 

Robinson disappeared for a couple years, before getting a chance to play again last season for the Falcons, where he put up a stat line of 20-320-2.

Robinson (5'10, 184) and Gibson (5'11, 191) are both slight receivers with hands smaller than nine inches. It took a year for Robinson to find a role in the Redskins' offense as a sparingly used receiver who can stretch the field and help open things up underneath, but not a guy you're looking for on 3rd and 5. That could also be the career path for Gibson.

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