After redshirting in 2010, Laurence Gibson played sparingly in his first three years in Blacksburg, totaling only 27 combined snaps on offense. As a junior in 2013, this changed. That year, Gibson started six games at right tackle before moving to the left side in 2014, starting all of the Hokies' thirteen games there as a senior. Gibson's highlight reel is impressive, but unfortunately the good plays come in bursts.
Gibson is a very good athlete. He had above average foot quickness and good lower body coordination to shuffle and match his defender, plus the quickness, acceleration and range to get downfield in the run game. On the other hand, his technique is substandard; his eyes are poor (he fails to pick up twists and delays) and his hands and arm placement are questionable, allowing too many rushers to get into his body. He needs time to improve his fundamentals and functional power before being ready for NFL snaps.
Want to know more about Gibson? Let's start by looking at his measurables:
|6' 6"||305||35⅛"||10⅜"||5.04||1.81||24||33½"||113"||7.72||4.56||121.3 (90.2)|
That pSPARQ score is pretty sweet. Here are his numbers in the form of a spider graph, courtesy of the folks at Mockdraftable.com:
If you want tape of Gibson in game action, You're going to be sorely disappointed, I fear. About the only highlights you'll find are those of his impressive Combine workout.
Let's see what our esteemed panel of scouts has to say about the Cowboys new offensive lineman:
Gary Horton (ESPN.com) 21st-ranked OT; 221st overall:
Pass Protection: Long and quick enough to handle speed off the edge. Above average potential in this area but he's a raw project that's a long way off at this point. Foot speed is better than footwork. Defenders have success crossing his face despite the fact that he has above average lateral mobility. Tends to stop moving feet and rely on punch too much when defenders work inside. Crosses feet and occasionally loses balance sliding outside. Flashes ability to anchor but sets high and gives too much ground to speed to power. Top heavy and vulnerable to pull moves. Infrequently ducks head and whiffs.
Run Blocking: Best fit is in zone heavy scheme. Above average quickness and agility for his size. Rangy and gets to the second level quickly. Good initial surge and flashes ability to move defenders off the ball at times but below average drive blockers at this time. Struggles to bend. Plays high and stalls out too much. Frequently wide with hands and grasps outside pads. Slips off bocks and ends up on the ground a little too much. Narrow base and leans. Inconsistent angles attacking second level. Too upright and has some problems adjusting to moving targets in space because of it.
Awareness: Above average locating assignment when releases up to second level. Adequate awareness as a zone blocker. Adequate tracking linebacker on combination blocks. Sporadically late recognizing them and diagnosing them but picks up most blitzes and line stunts in pass pro. Keeps head up and recognizes defenders creeping up. Seldom late reacting to snap but happens occasionally.
Toughness: Blocks to the whistle and always looks for someone to hit when gets into space. Intermittently gets under defenders' skin with effort but not an aggressive instigator. More of a finesse blocker than a four-quarter mauler. Lacks killer instinct and doesn't have great finishing power.
Intangibles: Hard worker in the weight room. Graduated with two degrees one in sociology and one in psychology. Attended Hargrave Military Academy for a year after high school and on the older side for a rookie prospect. Born March 19, 1991. Enrolled at Virginia Tech for 2010 spring semester. Lined up at both tackle spots and at guard during college career.
Dan Shonka (Ourlads.com) 21st-ranked OT:
Started at left tackle for a season and a half. Gibson wowed scouts at the Combine with elite measurements and workout numbers. His ability to move jumps off the tape as well. He shows potential to be more than just a workout warrior. Gibson is a sloppy player when it comes to essential technique. His athleticism won't be enough to get by in the NFL, thus he will need at least a year of diligent skill work while also improving his strength and power. He is a long shot to make an eventual impact in the league, but this kind of athlete does not come around often. Superb athlete for the position with such easy movement in space. Physically gifted with length and foot quickness. Can move laterally in a zone blocking scheme. Reaches the second level fast. Looks for more work as the play transpires, hustling downfield searching for a defender to drive through the ground. Hands are too far outside in pass protection and his pad level is too high. Won't bend at the knees and often finds himself with his numbers facing the ground. Despite his ability to move, his feet will get stuck in mud. Lacks the functional strength to sustain blocks for more than a second or two.
Nolan Nawrocki (NFL Draft 2015 Preview) 15th-ranked OT:
Strengths: Outstanding athlete. Extremely long arms. Locks on in the run game and runs his feet. Very quick working to the second level. Was the most explosive jumper among offensive linemen at the Combine, registering a 33 1/2 -inch vertical jump and a 9-ffot-5-inch broad jump. Has an extremely low 10.80 percent body fat, the lowest of any offensive lineman at the Combine, and is a very well-conditioned athlete who looks like he is moving better in the fourth quarter than he doe sin the first. Humble and grounded.
Weaknesses: Tends to sit tall in pass pro and can be out-leveraged by speed and power. Does not play strong. Needs to improve his functional football-playing core strength and learn to sink his hips to anchor. Took a long time to become a full-time starter in college and lacks confidence in his immense abilities.
Future: Developmental left tackle with very intriguing size, length and movement skill. Made considerable strides as a senior when he bulked up, but must hone his technique and continue to get stronger to handle NFL edge rushers. Would fit best in a zone-blocking scheme and has a lot of upside to be groomed.
Draft projection: Fourth- to fifth-round pick.
Strengths: Plays with good lateral quickness when asked to zone block. Has enough foot quickness to race to and battle for the edge in run game. Added more than 20 pounds before the 2014 season, and showed improved play strength on tape. Highly intelligent with ability to process and recognize. Does adequate job of rolling hips at contact to create leverage. Manages to seal the edge against pass rushers at the last moment and will push rushers around the arc.
Weaknesses: Plays with sloppy hand placement in run and pass. Lacks power to snatch and sustain blocks with consistency. Ducks head into contact, losing sight of target. Plays with some knee stiffness. Struggles to gain much ground with overly tight kick slide and finds himself behind too often. Lacks desired power in lower half as a run blocker. Too excitable and struggles to maintain body composure in space. Still lacks core strength, despite adding weight.
Draft Projection: Round 6 or 7
Sources Tell Us: "Really uneven college tape. He'll look like an NFL starter in one half of a game and then and undrafted free agent in the next. He's athletic, but hard to tell if he's strong enough to play in the league." - AFC offensive line coach
Out scouts are unified in describing Gibson as a terrific athlete - and, it would seem, such a good athlete that he proved impossible to pass up even though the Cowboys had already selected Chaz Green in the third round. As such, he's a terrific fit for the zone scheme that the Cowboys predominately run. In essence, he'll have two years to develop before moving into the gameday swing OT role that Green vacates when he moves up to replace the retired Doug Free. Or at least that's how the thinking appears to go..