Browns' Gilbert on ugly rookie season: 'I messed up'

Next season can't arrive quickly enough for Justin Gilbert.

Cleveland's rookie cornerback has seen his teammates and coaches unleash a steady stream of criticism this week on the heels of his disappointing first-year debut.

Linebacker Karlos Dansby on Tuesday questioned whether the No. 8 overall pick could make the transition from college to the NFL before safety Donte Whitner asked Gilbert to "grow up and not be a kid anymore," adding: "It's a wasted year for him."

After coach Mike Pettine said Wednesday that he's "not anywhere near" ready to write off the rookie, Gilbert promised Friday that his best days are ahead.

"I will work a lot harder," Gilbert told reporters, per The Elyria Chronicle-Telegram. "That's one promise I can make. I will be great."

Gilbert said the public criticism from teammates "may have crossed the line a little," but acknowledged that he's been distracted by "family business" during a first-year campaign that saw him displaced by fourth-rounder Pierre Desir and the undrafted K'Waun Williams in Cleveland's secondary.

While general manager Ray Farmer deserves credit for finding beyond-the-draft talent in Williams and running back Isaiah Crowell, the results from first-rounders Gilbert and Johnny Manziel are troubling. Both have promised to buckle down this offseason, but that amounts to little more than athlete-speak until we see it on the field.

"I messed up," Gilbert said Friday, per The Plain Dealer, before calling his rookie campaign a "minor setback for a major comeback."

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