Antonio Gibson is quickly emerging as one of the NFL’s brightest young stars at the running back position for the Washington Football Team. After a spectacular rookie campaign in 2020, he has already garnered compliments on his progression.
WFT running backs coach Randy Jordan spoke highly of Gibson to the media on Monday.
“Well, I’ll tell you this: it’s like night and day from the first time that he started to play the running back position full-time,” Jordan said. “He still has a lot of tools. He’s doing a really great job for us so far, and I’m just looking for him to continue to stack practices and continue to perfect his craft.”
Gibson jumped off the page as one of the best hybrid players in the 2020 rookie class as a wide receiver and a running back. Washington drafted Gibson No. 66 overall in the third round, but quickly switched his position full time to the backfield and Gibson went on to rush for the most rushing touchdowns (11) and the fifth-most rushing yards (795) among all rookie running backs this past season.
However, Washington still doesn’t want to limit Gibson to just rushing. According to Jordan, Gibson’s versatility as a receiving threat could also be utilized to take WFT’s offense to the next level.
“I think the biggest thing for him is to continue to progress, not only as a runner but as a pass catcher out of the backfield,” Jordan said. “I think that’s something we haven’t really tapped into a lot. I think the biggest thing, for him, is utilizing his ability to catch the ball because he has caught the ball in college.”
Jordan’s assessment stems from those two standout seasons at Memphis. Gibson played primarily as a wide receiver in college. In 19 games with Memphis, Gibson caught 44 passes for 834 yards (an incredible 19.0 yards per catch) and 10 touchdowns. He did also rush for 14 touchdowns during that span, so his hybrid WR-RB skills are what initially attracted WFT to Gibson. But now Jordan wants to re-emphasize Gibson’s catching abilities.
“One thing jokingly he said in a meeting one time was that … he was like, ‘Dang, I almost forgot how to play the receiver position,’ so that’s a good thing from a running back’s standpoint,” Jordan said with a laugh. “I think, first and foremost, he’s a football player. The more he [plays as a receiver], the more opportunities he has to do it, he’ll get better at it.”
Jordan specifically referenced the possibility of using Gibson as a third-down threat, catching passes out of the backfield for potentially big yardage. Washington fans will remember Chris Thompson was used in a similar role not too long ago.
WFT also added WR Curtis Samuel this offseason to add more depth to the position. However, one of Samuel’s biggest threats is also as a receiver out of the backfield for end-arounds and screen passes. Having a dual threat of Gibson-Samuel for that purpose could give opposing defenses fits. That improvement for Gibson begins during OTAs and minicamp and will continue at training camp in late July.