Antonio Gibson: 2020's Next Christian McCaffrey
Christian McCaffrey is a true generational running back. Ever since being drafted to the Carolina Panthers in 2017, McCaffrey continues to evolve every single season, finishing off the 2019 season with over 2,300 total yards and 19 touchdowns. Whether it's with his blazing speed, being clocked at 21.95 MPH, his physicality at the goal line with his 5’11, 205 pound build, or his tremendous hands as a receiver with 116 receptions last year, there's little for a defense to do in order to stop Mccaffrey.
As NFL teams continue to adapt their vision of running backs from pure physicality to speed demons with receiving capabilities, Mccaffrey remains as the “poster child” for what all NFL teams want as their running back.
While there will be many RB prospects drafted into the NFL with a similar skillset to Christian McCaffrey, no one will be able to produce the way he has- except for Antonio Gibson. The latest 2020 3rd round draft pick by the Washington Redskins has the potential to truly become the next version of Christian McCaffrey.
Antonio Gibson is a name many casual football fans have heard of going into the 2020 NFL draft, including myself. Antonio Gibson previously played college football in the AAC for the Memphis Tigers, playing as a dual RB/WR offensive weapon, but that was never supposed to have happened.
When Antonio Gibson arrived in Memphis for his freshmen season in 2018, Gibson was stuck in a loaded backfield behind Darrell Henderson Jr. and Tony Pollard, not even receiving one carry the entire season. Throughout Gibson’s rookie season, he was asked by first year head coach, Ryan Silverfield to begin training as a wide receiver, since there are no running opportunities for him.
While in the process of learning how to play wide receiver, Gibson was then asked again to learn how to play tight end as injuries began to accumulate for the Tigers. Gibson would still not see the field much in 2018, finishing off his freshmen campaign with just six receptions for 99 yards and two touchdowns.
Going into his sophomore season, this is where the true potential of Gibson showed. While only being 6’ 228 lbs, Gibson became a freak of nature with his limited opportunities with his speed, elusiveness, and receiving capabilities. To put his speed into perspective, Gibson’s unofficial 40 yard dash is 4.39, being compared to Saquon Barkley at 4.40 and faster than Dalvin Cook and Christian Mccaffrey at 4.49.
Gibson started to become a true focal point in the Tigers offense, finishing off the season with 1,104 yards from scrimmage, ranking second in the AAC in yards per reception, and 12 touchdowns on only 38 receptions and 33 carries. Gibson also was used as a kick and punt returner, ranking second in the AAC averaging 28 yards per return, 645 total yards, and taking one for a touchdown.
While these numbers look good, watching Gibson play on the field was even better with his quick elusiveness. According to Pro Football Focus, an NCAA’s running backs average percentage of forcing missed tackles is 25 percent while Gibson finished 2019 off at 40.7%, including this beautiful 73 yard touchdown.
At 228 pounds with blazing speed, the ability to shed tackles, and great receiving hands, it's quite easy to guess why he was drafted to the Redskins- Ron Rivera sees the same thing in Gibson that he saw in Mccaffrey.
Throughout Rivera’s ten years as an NFL head coach, only two running backs have been drafted in the first three rounds: Christian McCaffrey and Antonio Gibson. Even in a loaded Washington Redskins backfield with Derrius Guice, Adrian Peterson, Peyton Barber, J.D McKissic, and Bryce Love, there was no need for Rivera to want another RB, unless he sees something truly special.
With comparisons of Gibson and McCaffrey having come to light since being drafted, Gibson has embraced it, even comparing himself to Mccaffrey in a recent ESPN interview. Ron Rivera has called it a “fair” comparison due to similarities in skill sets, but noting that Gibson is built up more than Mccaffrey. Gibson has also received praise from hall of fame executive, Gil Brandt, stating Gibson truly has the potential to become a pro bowl running back
There has truly been a lot oh hype surronging Antonio Gibson, especailly throughout the fantasy football world. Normally if Matthew Berry or any ESPN fantasy football analyst says that they like a guy like Gibson, I would normally do the exact opposite of what they say is 80% wrong. For some reason, this time I do agree with Gibson when it comes to his massive sleeper fantasy potential this season and what he can do in a few years. While he may have a ways to go before you see the true potential, never forget this article when Antonio Gibson is a multi-year pro bowler as one of the best versatile offensive weapons in the NFL.