Certain football terms get thrown around too much when describing players, which can get quite annoying/really annoying/nauseating.
"Mismatch nightmare" is one, and so is "home run threat." Nine out of 10 quarterbacks have "rocket arms," meanwhile, and most Pro Bowl pass rushers possess an "arsenal of moves."
One other example is the "boom-or-bust" label. However, if you can hold off on the eye-rolls for the rest of this story, that'd be reallllllllly appreciated, because it feels like Antonio Gibson is the ultimate boom-or-bust guy in Washington now that he won't have any preseason games to make use of before his first pro campaign.
The second Gibson was selected in the April's third round, questions began mounting about what his role in the offense would become. While starring at Memphis in 2019, he finished with 38 catches and 33 rushing attempts. How would Scott Turner employ that kind of mismatch nightm — er, sorry, multifaceted weapon in his scheme?
Well, thanks to the pandemic, all of the team's rookie minicamp practices and OTAs were canceled, taking away sessions that would've at least hinted at where Gibson was initially lining up. With the preseason gone now as well, no one will get to see the 22-year-old in any live action, which obviously would've been valuable and educational.
That leaves training camp as the only real opportunity to learn about Gibson's eventual duties — and that's what makes his situation so enticing and precarious.
On the bust side of the conversation, it's fair to wonder how the loss of all those May, June and August reps could hurt Gibson as a rookie. Washington likely has major plans to involve him in a variety of ways, but will he be able to handle all of that responsibility without so much of the expected prep time?
Or maybe Turner and the staff don't even let it get to that point, instead opting to cut his early workload down before he even has the chance to get going?
For the most revered rookies, such as Chase Young, and already accomplished veterans, like Landon Collins, missing out on preseason shouldn't have much of an impact, if at all. Gibson, on the other hand, could really be sidetracked by the lack of game experience, because that would be where he could both familiarize himself with his place(s) on the depth chart and gain the trust of Turner, Dwayne Haskins and others.
That's the bust half. Now, let's get to the boom half.
Training camp is still on the schedule for Gibson, and that can certainly be enough for him to find his groove.
Take Terry McLaurin, for example: The wideout was effective in Richmond last year, yet because of injury concerns, he was basically a no-show for all of the preseason. That didn't seem to affect him much, did it?
The lesson in that is a legitimately talented player's talent can absolutely reveal itself right away come Week 1, even if that player didn't tune up much beforehand.
That's not the lone reason the cancellation of the exhibitions could benefit Gibson, either.
Think again back to McLaurin, and how he destroyed the Eagles in the opener, produced scores in the team's first three matchups and kept on dominating from there. No one saw that coming from the receiver, because no one outside of the Burgundy and Gold really saw the receiver in the first place. The same should be true for Gibson.
Turner may also be loving this. Much like the Shanahans did with Robert Griffin III and the read-option in 2012, the offensive coordinator can now dream up how to feature No. 24 and proceed to unleash those plans beginning in September without any prior warning. He can get creative, then catch opponents off guard with that creativity.
During the draft, many pundits tabbed Gibson as a risky pick for the organization because of his limited college track record and his perhaps undefined position in the NFL. Those same pundits made sure to note the promising upside of the choice, though.
Well, that risk and that upside appear to be even more prevalent, at least when it comes to Gibson's rookie fortunes. So, as annoying/really annoying/nauseating as those previously mentioned terms can be, you're now officially excused if you, too, view Gibson as the encapsulation of a boom-or-bust prospect.
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