The NFL is constantly looking for high-level cornerbacks. Duke Blue Devils star Mark Gilbert is a force on the rise who could make a statement in 2019.
The Duke Blue Devils are known far more for producing NBA players than NFL prospects. It’s an understandable truth, as head coach Mike Krzyzewski has been churning out national champions and fundamentally polished contributors for the better part of 40 years.
As Duke’s football program quietly produces quality players of its own, however, cornerback Mark Gilbert has a chance to truly put the team on the map.
Gilbert isn’t a household name, but he’s an impressive season away from being known as a lock to come off the board in Round 1 of the 2019 NFL Draft. Standing at 6’1″, the junior cornerback has momentum behind him that can’t be understated.
If he manages to prove that he can thrive under the burden of expectations, there’s reason to believe he’ll be coveted as a potential top-20 selection.
Gilbert was unexpectedly brilliant during his sophomore season. In 13 appearances, he produced 35 tackles, including 3.0 for loss, along with six interceptions and 15 passes defended—impressive statistics that put him in rare company.
Gilbert tied for fourth in the country and second in the ACC in interceptions, as well as eighth in the NCAA and second in the conference in passes defended.
Furthermore, despite showing a willingness to take on the difficult assignments, Gilbert was targeted just 60 times. He allowed opponents to complete just 38.3 percent of their passes when throwing his way, which inevitably garnered a First Team All-ACC selection.
While some cornerbacks specialize in one area of the game, Gilbert proved to be the complete package as far as coverage was concerned.
The simple message: Don’t look Gilbert’s way if you’re hoping to complete a pass.
In 2018, Gilbert will be under more of a magnifying lens as scouts and analysts evaluate his technique. Furthermore, ambitious quarterbacks will look his direction in an attempt to prove that they can make plays against an individual who may be an NFL-caliber cornerback.
If Gilbert manages to hold his own and prove that 2017 was anything but an aberration, he should find himself in the discussion as a potential Top 20 pick.
The Duke Blue Devils are known more for basketball than football, but Mark Gilbert could soon help put the latter program on the map.