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Justin Gilbert's status as top corner questioned by scouts

NFL Media analyst Charles Davis agonized for days while putting together his recent big board of 2014 NFL Draft prospects. The buzz over the list seemed to be about UCF quarterback Blake Bortles being slotted all the way down at No. 25, but Davis said at least two NFL personnel folks called him because of his ranking of another player.

"One guy I put on there that I felt confident about was Justin Gilbert, the corner from Oklahoma state," Davis said on "Path to the Draft." "I heard reaction from around the league, a couple of people I really trust. I have him at No. 13, but they're not convinced he's the best corner in this draft.

"They both came back to me and said they're not crazy about him."

Gilbert turned in a terrific senior season for the Cowboys and enters the drafted as a highly coveted bump-and-run corner who can double as a return man. He has slipped in the positional rankings during the pre-draft process, but nearly all recent NFL.com mock drafts still have him being the first cornerback taken in the draft.

Gilbert has had a busy few weeks following his pro day last month as he meets with teams across the league to convince them that he is indeed the best at his position. He recently tweeted that the Lions, Broncos, Falcons and Jets were among the clubs that have had or will receive a visit from him, but that's only a handful of the actual number of visits he's been on.

Gilbert's most likely destination appears to be the Detroit Lions with the 10th overall pick. The team is in a tough division, and Gilbert's cover skills would help boost a secondary that gets plenty of help from the front seven.

Fellow analyst Mike Mayock slid Gilbert down a spot behind Michigan State's Darqueze Dennard and Virginia Tech's Kyle Fuller in his latest rankings. With so many top players at the position so closely grouped together by scouts, it's apparent that each person who evaluates the position will form a different opinion from others.

"One called him a pile-inspector and not a willing tackler," added Davis. "I have a question mark at him at No. 13, but I'm sticking with him as the top corner in this draft."

Along with his size, some teams will no doubt echo Davis and keep Gilbert high on their draft boards because of his speed. He ran a 4.37 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, and his two interception returns for touchdowns last season showed he can be a playmaker with the ball in his hands.

As corner-needy teams from Tampa Bay to San Francisco scramble to set their final draft boards as the calendar changes from April to May, it will be interesting to see which clubs agree with Davis on Gilbert and which are confident enough in their evaluation to disagree.

Follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter @BryanDFischer.

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