Played quarterback and defensive back as a Texas prep, also competing in basketball and track. Burst on the scene as a true freshman in 2010, returning 26 kickoffs for 698 yards (26.8-yard average) and two touchdowns and returning eight punts for 55 yards (6.9) in 12 games. As a reserve defensive back and special teams player, he had 18 tackles, one pass breakup and zero interceptions with one forced fumble. Missed one game with an undisclosed injury. Started 13 games at cornerback in 2011 and had 59 tackles, 10 pass breakups and five interceptions with one tackle for loss. He also returned 26 kickoffs for 703 yards (27.0) and two TDs with a pair of scores. Had interceptions against a trio of quarterbacks who became top 10 draft picks: Stanford's Andrew Luck, Baylor's Robert Griffin III and Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill. In 13 starts in 2012, he had 63 tackles, nine pass breakups and no interceptions with 2.5 tackles for loss and one forced fumble. He also returned 32 kickoffs for 827 yards (25.8) and a TD, with a 96-yard scoring romp against West Virginia. Was a Jim Thorpe Award finalist in 2013 after registering 42 tackles, seven pass breakups and seven interceptions in 13 games (10 starts); also had 18 kickoff returns for 453 yards (25.2) and a TD. Had interception returns for touchdowns of 31 yards at Iowa State and 43 yards at Texas. Did not start against Kansas State, sitting out the first half after being ejected the week before against West Virginia. Did not start and was limited against Baylor with an injured left shoulder. Concluded his college career with eight non-offensive touchdowns, including six on kickoff returns (one shy of the NCAA record).
Outstanding size-speed ratio and athletic ability. Fluid movement skills -- makes it look easy flipping his hips and reacting to the thrown ball. Very good transitional quickness and recovery speed. Superb feet and agility to pop out of his breaks and close on the ball -- explosively quick. Natural interceptor with very good hand-eye coordination, leaping ability and overall ball skills. Very good vision and traffic burst as a returner (six career kickoff-return TDs).
Is a bit soft-tempered -- not as aggressive or physical in run support as you would expect for his size. Can do a better job shedding blockers. Too often lets teammates arrive first at the scene. Spent time in the doghouse as a young player. Has some growing up to do -- maintains a lockdown corner's ego, at times coasts on his natural talent and is not immune to mental errors.
Round 1 (top 15)
The most talented cover corner in this year's draft class, Gilbert has size, speed and flexibility to blanket receivers at the next level. Also brings impact ability as a kick returner. Is capable of stepping into the starting lineup from Day 1 and playing at a high level if he adheres to a professional approach to the craft. Could stand to improve in run support.