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Browns DC says he's 'very optimistic' for Justin Gilbert

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If the Browns can turn Justin Gilbert around, there's a chance they'll have one of the best secondaries in football.

For defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil, that is absolutely part of the plan.

"I think that expectations for corners in this league for first year are always a lot higher than they should be," O'Neil recently told the team's website. "I can't remember a rookie corner that's had a successful season in his first year. I know nobody wants to hear this, but it takes time, it takes time to learn how to play corner in the NFL. Quarterbacks are too good, receivers are too good."

He added: "I'm very optimistic for Justin in Year 2."

Part of the reason why so many are down on Gilbert is because he was called out by his head coach and then a series of his teammates toward the end of last season. Maybe it's just a motivational tactic for a player who had four of his five best games down the stretch.

Maybe Mike Pettine, who is used to exemplary cornerback play from his time in New York and Buffalo, is just accustomed to something more.

Either way, O'Neil is right. Most cornerback selections are project picks. It's up to the individual to study wide receiver and quarterback tendencies and learn to place their bodies in the right spot.

Now, he must hope that Gilbert ends up heading in the right direction.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast welcomes back Colleen Wolfe to the show and breaks down team needs heading into the draft. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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