Browns DC: Justin Gilbert has chance to win No. 2 CB job


While Johnny Manziel dominates social media, the football world has forgotten about the Cleveland Browns' other first-round draft pick.

New coach Mike Pettine targeted cornerback Justin Gilbert at No. 8 overall to replicate his success with Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie in the 2009-to-2011 Jets defense.

Although Buster Skrine has been taking the reps opposite Joe Haden in offseason practices, defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil has made it clear that Gilbert will get "every opportunity to win" the No. 2 job.

Quite simply, Pettine's defense won't fire on all cylinders unless Gilbert forces Skrine into the nickelback role.

"(Having two cornerbacks who can excel in press-man coverage is) a huge advantage," Pettine explained, via the Akron Beacon Journal. "Just look at the math of it.

"If you can allocate two corners to two receivers, as opposed to having to roll a (safety) over the top and waste an extra (defender) on top of a receiver, I think just from a math standpoint (it's an advantage). Football, when you break it down, a lot of stuff is based on math. You're trying to get the maximum number of defenders at the point of attack."

As is customary with rookie cornerbacks, Gilbert will be tested early and often opposite a Pro Bowl-caliber shadow corner in Haden.

If all goes according to plan, he will be hitting his stride in 2015, just as the Manziel-Josh Gordon connection is kicking into high gear in the AFC North.

In the latest edition of the "Around The League Podcast," the heroes talk "Hard Knocks" before delving into a new batch of rookie whispers.