Can Reggie Gilbert Crack the Packers’ 53-Man Roster at OLB?

If there is one thing to take away from the Green Bay Packers rookie class in 2016, it’s that the Packers did a heck of a job when it comes to undrafted free agents.

Over the past few weeks, the Packers Guru has been breaking down the rookie free agents and there a number that appear to have a chance at making their way onto the 53-man roster. Kentrell Brice, Beniquez Brown and Don Jackson all have a chance — so does Reggie Gilbert, a rookie free agent out of Arizona.

Gilbert is a 6-4, 272-pound defensive end, at least he was in college. He will be playing outside linebacker for the Packers or could see some snaps in the elephant position where Julius Peppers and Datone Jones will see many of their snaps this season.

When he started at Arizona, Gilbert was a defensive tackle. And while he was productive there (7.5 sacks in two seasons), he was moved to defensive end, where he finished with 6.5 sacks over his last two years, including 3.5 in 2015.

Gilbert also racked up 14 tackles for loss as a defensive end, 28 total, and finished his playing career at Arizona with a total of 144 tackles and two passes defensed.

When you watch his highlight (shown below), you see Gilbert’s length and that he’s a capable athlete, he runs a 4.72, which is a bit slow for edge rushers, but not terrible.

Gilbert’s is good at setting the edge and as late as last offseason, he was expected to get drafted. However, making the transition to 3-4 outside linebacker could be tricky.

In terms of setting the edge, Gilbert would surely do fine. But with his lack of quickness, he may struggle to beat NFL tackles around the edge. I also don’t see him faring to well in coverage either.

Gilbert is going to make the 53-man roster is one of two ways. One would be to so show some pass rush skills. Two is making a name for himself on special teams.

With Peppers, Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, Jayrone Elliott and Kyler Fackrell, Green Bay has few spots available at outside linebacker, particularly with Jones also expected to see snaps there.

Therefore, in my opinion, Gilbert will be fighting for the last spot with someone like Lerentee McCray, who the Packers signed earlier this offseason from the Denver Broncos.

Now McCray isn’t a great pass rusher. He has 1.5 sacks in two NFL seasons. But he is solid on special teams and that’s where Gilbert will need to beat him out. Certainly if Gilbert shows enough on defense, that will earn him some favor, but he if wants to secure a spot on Green Bay’s 53, the kicking game could be the key.

Even if he misses out on the 53-man roster, Gilbert is a good bet to make the practice squad, especially cause Green Bay could use depth at outside linebacker. However, unless he shows some aptitude on special teams, don’t expect to see Gilbert on game day anytime soon.

 

chris peterson

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