Westbrook says Gibson has 'everything' he'd want in a feature back originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
It was hard to know what to expect from Antonio Gibson entering the 2020 season, considering he was a rookie who played mainly wide receiver in college and was transitioning to a new position in a year with no offseason program and a truncated training camp.
Yet, despite the obstacles in front of him, Gibson starred for Washington last season. The third-round pick finished with over 1,000 scrimmage yards and 11 rushing touchdowns, the most by any Washington rookie since Alfred Morris in 2012.
Despite Gibson’s success as a rookie, there are still plenty of areas in his game he can improve. Yet, based on his production as a rookie alone, former Pro Bowl running back Brian Westbrook thinks Gibson has everything it takes to be a feature back in the NFL for years to come.
“I thought he had a really good rookie season,” Westbrook said on B-Mitch and Finlay on Thursday.
“II thought what he was able to show, his ability to run all the plays — inside zone, outside zone, toss, sweeps as well — and then be able to catch the ball out of the backfield, he showed everything that I would want in a feature back.”
That’s high praise from Westbrook, who was one of the NFL’s best running backs during his nine-year NFL career, most of which came with the Eagles.
As a player, Westbrook was also a bit ahead of his time, too. During his eight seasons with the Eagles, Westbrook was arguably the best pass-catching running back in the NFL — something that is stressed in today’s game more than ever.
When Washington selected Gibson, many figured his wide receiver background would translate to him being a pass-catching back right away. However, while Gibson did haul in 36 catches as a rookie, that role of a receiver out of the background belonged to J.D. McKissic, who snagged 80 balls this past year.
Gibson knows he can improve as a pass-catcher out of the backfield. However, Westbrook saw plenty of potential from Gibson in that aspect as a rookie and thinks the rising second-year pro will only get better moving forward.
“In today’s day and age, you have to have a guy that can help you in the run game but is also certainly effective in the pass game,” Westbrook said. “He showed all of that throughout his rookie year. To me, he was one of the best rookies I saw all season long.”