*Our RB grades can and will change as more information comes in from Pro Day workouts, leaked Wonderlic test results, etc. We will update ratings as new info becomes available.

*We use the term “Power RB” to separate physically bigger, more between-the-tackles–capable RBs from our “speed RBs” group. “Speed RBs” are physically smaller, but much faster/quicker, and less likely to flourish between the tackles.

A lot to try to unpack here…

Is Antonio Gibson a wide receiver who played a little running back? Is he more a running back for the NFL, one who used to play wide receiver in college? Or is he just a special team threat/weapon?

No one really cared about or noticed Gibson, from an NFL Draft perspective, for a good three-and-a-half years into his college football career. Two years at the JUCO level. Transferred to Memphis and played sparingly as a junior in 2018 (6 catches, no rushing attempts, 1 kick return all season). Eight games into his senior/2019 season, he started catching a few more passes, had 6 carries for 23 yards, did score 5 receiving TDs in limited targets/catches and was among the conference leaders in kick return average.

After his first 8 games in 2019 he saw more touches, scored a few TDs, returned the ball well…but nothing really special happening.

Then, in Memphis’s 9th game of the season vs. SMU – Gibson ‘arrived’. A career high 6 catches, a career high 130 receiving yards, and a TD, a career high 3 carries for a career high 97 yards rushing, totaling a career high 227 total scrimmage yards, plus his first kickoff return TD for a grand total for the game of a career high 386 total yards in the game as a receiver-rusher-returner.

Suddenly, everyone wondered who that 220+ pound diverse weapon with high-end speed came from?

A few games later, in the AAC title game, as a wide receiver jumping into the backfield every so often, he would run the ball 11 times for 130 yards and a TD. He would go on to win the 2019 AAC Conference Special Teams Player of the Year. In his bowl game against Penn State, Gibson had 6 catches for 99 yards. Fans took notice of the mounting statistical output and his size/athleticism package. The NFL took notice – a Senior Bowl invite and an NFL Combine invite followed.

Gibson was clearly the most athletic, eye-appealing RB prospect at the Senior Bowl…and the most intriguing. He then ran a 4.39 40-time at the NFL Combine…tied for the best among the RB group – tied with Jonathan Taylor. Everyone was floored by Taylor’s 4.39 40-time at 226-pounds…Gibson ran his 4.39 at 228-pounds.

With all this whirlwind of performance and athleticism…is Antonio Gibson one of the best RB prospects in the 2020 class? No. Not really. I don’t think so. Well, maybe. It’s a glass half-full vs. half-empty argument. He is intriguing and definitely NFL Draft-worthy, but we have some issues here to deal with.

Gibson is the classic ‘athletic freak’ RB prospect…but suspect at the technical, instinctual parts of the game. Guys like him tend to get ‘analytics’ fans/scouts whipped into a frenzy, and then they are not drafted near as high as you’d hope a team would take a chance on – and then, worse, they are buried as a backup and return man in the NFL for years…never really getting a full chance or push.

Here’s the upside v. downside case on Gibson…


 -- Highly athletic. Very fast with burst and is physical – he takes hits and keeps moving like they didn’t happen. Every time Gibson gets the ball he looks like a bull being ridden at the rodeo…they open that gate, the bull just launches out and starts sprinting, bucking, and is out of control…and unstoppable – Gibson gets the ball and takes off with it the same way. He just starts running fast and knocking things over and running past things. He’s not a deliberate, instinctual runner…he’s just on a wild jailbreak every time he gets the ball – but the thing is ‘it’s a thing of beauty’ to behold. You never know what’s going to happen when he has the ball in his hands.

 -- Has experience mostly as a receiver, but some as a tailback, and returning kicks. His tailback experience is limited, and he has upside to discover. Some of his lack of patience or understanding at running back is because he barely played there ever. He was only ‘discovered’ with a handful of games left in his senior year…and Memphis had two nice, future NFL prospect RBs ahead of him already established.



 -- To me, he is not a wide receiver at all. He looks lost running routes. He looks stiff going side-to-side/running routes. He was mostly used to sprint deep and take coverage away while the Memphis operated with everyone else. He was a great bubble screen option…but not a ‘real’ wide receiver really.

 -- He is very limited as a tailback, in experience and instinct. He runs like a man possessed…but not possessed by an instinctual, tactical, experienced runner spirit. He’s not ready to just jam into an NFL starting lineup and take 15+ carries for 16 games and lead the offense Week 1. He’d need to begin as a limited touch, homerun threat option and build up from there. The NFL rarely takes the time to develop guys like him (usually they only get chances when 2-3 guys above them get hurt and the team is forced to play their inexperienced, wild stallion athletes).

 -- Memphis didn’t really see Gibson as a weapon that they HAD to use or build a plan around. He had a couple moments, but Memphis preferred working with two RBs ahead of him (both NFL caliber talents) and the QB looked at other receivers on pass plays way before Gibson – even though he was open, he wasn’t all that trusted/desired. This worries me – the team didn’t seem like they were all that into Gibson, and he just kinda fell into their laps/had a hot streak.

When Gibson ran for 75 yards on 6 carries in their final regular season game vs. Cincinnati and then the next week ran for 130 yards on 11 carries in the AAC title game vs. Cincinnati – RB/running the ball touches way above his norm. He delivered to the tune 205 rushing yards on 17 carries (12.1 ypc) total in those two critical wins…BUT then he had just two carries for 6 yards in their bowl game against Penn State. Think about it -- the guy helping carry them to the AAC title as this unbridled force of a runner they discovered, with three weeks to prepare for a huge bowl game (for Memphis program) – and Gibson wasn’t much of the running plan in the bowl game. Everything Gibson did/touches he got seemed on accident, not fully planned. Not desired. No urgency to ride this bull to the finish line.

Was Gibson just overlooked by the Memphis staff (and a good CFB team)…or was there a reason/s not to fully trust him? He supposedly struggled to pick up the playbook causing his lack of touches for most of his Memphis career. I saw him and the QB not on the same page more than a few times in the passing game. There was cause to ignore to him, but then when he did get the ball…magic tended to happen – but Memphis didn’t see it or push it like you’d think.

Is Gibson a great hidden prospect because of all of this? Well, if Memphis didn’t force Gibson…do you expect the very conservative, not outside-the-box thinkers in the NFL to discover him? This is an NFL that didn’t see much in David Johnson coming out of Northern Iowa and he was way better than Gibson in every aspect coming out in the draft. Bruce Arians was pained to play DJ until all his other RBs got hurt and he was forced to. Dwayne Washington was a very similar story to Gibson – college WR, moved to RB late in his career and was ‘wow’…and then ‘wow’ in pre-Draft times/measurables, and then ‘wow’ in his rookie NFL preseason…and then nothing, radio silence. The 7th-round pick, Washington, was given a few touches his rookie regular season but buried mostly by the Lions and then cut a few years later and picked up by the Saints as a 3rd-string RB and key special teams guy. Dwayne Washington had as much/more talent than Gibson coming out. It went to waste/Washington didn’t have the great experience/instincts of an NFL runner…and never developed past that. The NFL wants polished, experienced, boring RBs who know blocking schemes more than they want/seek/crave total athletic, playmaking weapon/freaks to teach/develop. I firmly believe NFL coaches would rather have a good block than a 75-yard TD run…that’s the NFL in a nutshell...they’d rather have not-a-turnover on a play than a TD result from a play. It’s a twisted business.

If that’s all true…Gibson has a long, uphill battle ahead of him. And that makes it hard to scout him – he could be great with a chance, grooming…but most likely he’ll be buried and then considered a bust because he was buried. Which side was ultimately ‘right’? If he never gets a real shot, fans/scouts will never know if it was him or his lack of opportunity.


Antonio Gibson, Through the Lens of Our RB Scouting Algorithm:

As a runner…

2019 season total = 33 carries for 369 yards for a whopping 11.2 ypc. 

First 8 games of 2019 = 6 carries for 23 yards for a measly 3.8 ypc

Final 6 games of 2019 = 27 carries for 346 yards for 12.8 ypc

Rushing TDs…

Last 6 games of 2019 = 4 rushing TDs off 27 carries…a rushing TD every 6.8 touches. 

Think they might be cheap rushing TDs? TD runs of 78, 18, 29, and 65 yards.

Receiving TDs…(he wasn’t cheap here either)

8 receiving TDs in 2019 season…from 55, 4, 73, 50, 40, 50, 6, and 6 yards

Also, note these are more catch and run TDs not big play bomb catches…he’s not a ‘real’ WR (even though he thinks he is) making downfield plays. He’s more of a quick pass, catch, and bucking bronco on the loose.  

2020 NFL Combine Data:

6’0.3”/228, 8 5/8” hands, 31 1/8” arms (smaller hands, but fumbles or drops not an issue in college…but not the smoothest catcher of the ball downfield but not bad)

4.39 40-time, 2.57 20-yard, 1.55 10-yard

No agility times

16 bench reps, 35” vertical, 9’10” broad jump

The Historical RB Prospects to Whom Antonio Gibson Most Compares Within Our System:

There really isn’t a great comparison because not many guys came through the system as wide receivers, but then got some RB carries late in their careers and blew up with them and became legit RB prospects for the draft out of nowhere (maybe Cordarrelle Patterson is his best comp? But he was a 1st-round prospect at WR, who happened to run the ball like none other). We have some college WRs who converted to RB and had big seasons (Latavius Murray, Dwayne Washington), but they had more time on the books as running backs in college. Gibson is a bit of an anomaly.

Use Cordarrelle Patterson as a cautionary tale – he was drafted to be a WR for the NFL, but the guy couldn’t not run for TDs when he got the ball as a runner – and yet he was barely given the ball, and NFL teams got frustrated with his lack of WR prowess and all his various NFL teams talked a good game about getting him the ball as a runner more, but no team/coach really followed through.

Latavius Murray very nearly got buried in the NFL, but Oakland got backed into a corner and had to give him more touches one season and he became a good/breakout running back, and then got ignored in free agency (considering how well he had done) and was buried in Minnesota and is now in a split role/secondary RB for New Orleans.

Gibson faces an uphill battle in the unimaginative NFL.  

RB Score










Speed Metric

Agility Metric

Power Metric



















C. Florida













Ohio State













Fresno St















































*A score of 8.50+ is where we see a stronger correlation of RBs going on to become NFL good/great/elite. A score of 10.00+ is more rarefied air in our system, and indicates a greater probability of becoming an elite NFL RB.

All of the RB ratings are based on a 0-10 scale, but a player can score negative, or above a 10.0 in certain instances.

Overall rating/score = A combination of several on-field performance measures, including refinement for strength of opponents faced, mixed with all the physical measurement metrics—then compared/rated historically within our database and formulas. More of a traditional three-down search—runner, blocker, and receiver.

*RB-Re score = New/testing starting in 2015. Our new formula/rating that attempts to identify and quantify a prospect’s receiving skills even deeper than in our original formulas. RB prospects can now make it/thrive in the NFL strictly based on their receiving skills—it is an individual attribute sought out for the NFL, and no longer dismissed or overlooked. Our rating combines a study of their receiving numbers in college in relation to their offense and opponents, as well as profiling size-speed-agility along with hand-size measurables, etc.

*RB-Ru score = New/testing starting in 2015. Our new formula/rating that attempts to classify and quantify a RB prospect’s ability strictly as a runner of the ball. Our rating combines a study of their rushing numbers in college in relation to their offense and strength of opponents, as well as profiling size-speed-agility along with various size measurables, etc.

Raw Speed Metric = A combination of several speed and size measurements from the NFL Combine, judged along with physical size profile, and then compared/rated historically within our database and scouting formulas. This is a rating strictly for RBs of a similar/bigger size profile.

Agility Metric = A combination of several speed and agility measurements from the NFL Combine, judged along with physical size profile, and then compared/rated historically within our database and scouting formulas. This is a rating strictly for RBs of a similar/bigger size profile.

2020 NFL Draft Outlook:

Gibson is likely a day three draft pick, and more 5th-6th-round. Given he is a decent kick returner who can take some totes at running back – I’ll guess 5th-rounder. 

If I were an NFL GM, I’d be intrigued by Gibson as he fell. You can get a million carbon copy, solid RB prospects in on day three, but there are only so many guys with Gibson’s unique athleticism and skillset. I’d like to draft him and see what kind of Christmas gift I unwrap (knowing I might be disappointed). However, I’d have to worry that my NFL head coach would bury him for ‘reasons’ and he’d be a wasted pick. He’s what the draft should be about…and what the NFL reality usually devalues. 

NFL Outlook:   

No clue. He’ll either become a shock star out of nowhere (because people above him on the depth chart got hurt and the team was forced to use him), an unbridled force that cannot be contained (for a season or two)…or he’ll be the typical -- buried in limited touches and frustration for 3-7 years as a forgotten 3rd-string RB and primary return man. 

NFL history says…forgotten, buried. 

I hope not for his sake.