What if I told you there was a cornerback in this year's draft class with not one, but two relatives with a combined 21 years of NFL experience and eight Pro Bowl appearances between them? Would you know who I'm talking about? Does it impact the way you may or may not view a prospect?
Odds are it probably doesn't, but let me introduce you to former Duke Blue Devils Cornerback Mark Gilbert anyway. Both his uncle and cousin had a long successful careers in the league and Mark is now trying to follow in their footsteps. But, is he capable of living up to his NFL bloodline?
The blood pulsing through Mark Gilbert's veins has strong NFL ties. His uncle, Sean Gilbert, was the No. 3 overall pick in 1993 and played 11 seasons in the NFL with one Pro Bowl appearance. His cousin, Darrelle Revis, played 10 seasons in the league with seven Pro Bowl appearances. If he can follow in their footsteps he should have a long successful career as well.
If only things were that easy. Unfortunately we can't measure a prospects potential success based on what one of his relatives accomplished in the league. If that were the case we'd see a lot more attention paid to sons and nephews of former NFL players. Sadly though, that's just not the case.
That doesn't mean Mark Gilbert isn't talented though. In fact, he was once considered one of the top prospects at the position until he had a run of bad luck. An unfortunate hip injury that required surgery caused him to miss most of 2018 and all of 2019. Then he only played two games in 2020 before deciding to opt out to prepare for the NFL Draft after sustaining a foot injury.
Because of his concerning injury history he might not hear his name called at any point in the 2021 NFL Draft. That doesn't mean he's not talented though, because he is. In his lone full season as a starter in 2017 he accumulated 35 tackles, three tackles for a loss, 21 passes defensed, and an impressive six interceptions. It's that kind of talent a team will be willing to gamble on.
If I'm the Dallas Cowboys this is exactly the kind of late-round or undrafted free agent I'd be targeting. He fits Dan Quinn's prototypical mold for an outside CB at 6'1″, 185 pounds and has some intriguing talent worth gambling on. If he can somehow learn to stay healthy he could be the steal of the draft in my opinion.
“Gilbert owns the foot quickness, hip flip and speed to attach himself to routes. He has the awareness and ball skills to make plays on the ball with timing, but he must improve his play strength and improve his discipline as a run defender. Overall, Gilbert uses twitch to blanket receivers and shows innate ability to disrupt the catch point, but the durability concerns will be the anchor to his draft grade, possibly dropping him to undrafted territory.” – Dane Brugler –
Mark Gilbert's got a long journey ahead of himself to live up to his NFL bloodline, but I believe he has a chance to doing just that if he can stay healthy. The talent is definitely there, now he just needs the opportunity and the Dallas Cowboys could be just the team to give it to him. Only time will tell though.