Patriots Draft 2020 Targets: Underrated RB/WR Could Replace James White

Getty INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 27: Wide receiver Antonio Gibson of Memphis runs the 40-yard dash during NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 27, 2020 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Like any team in the NFL, the New England Patriots are always on the hunt for offensive weapons.

Few in the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft are as dangerous as Memphis’ Antonio Gibson, and some believe he could thrive in James White’s role.

Antonio Gibson Considered a Potential Target of the Patriots

Pro Football Focus’ New England Patriots Twitter account love Gibson and suggest he could step in as something of a Swiss Army knife in the Patriots’ offense, much like White, only with more size and pure speed.

They discuss his Combine numbers and how he may have been miscast at the workouts as a receiver:

Antonio Gibson Has Some Special Athleticism

The combination of power and speed is what jumps out at you with Gibson. At 6’0″ 228 pounds, Gibson ran a superlative 4.38 40-yard-dash at the Combine, but it’s his ability to make tacklers miss, as he does in the highlight reels below, that should have talent evaluators excited.

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Antonio Gibson’s Versatility

As you can see in the highlight reel, Gibson has been a playmaker as a receiver, running back, kick and punt returner. This wide range of abilities makes him a potential fit for several NFL teams.

That’s why the Patriots–or any team interested in Gibson–may have to trade up to select him on the second day of the draft. Athletes like Gibson with the ability to help an NFL team on Day 1 can become hot commodities the week of the draft.

PFF’s Michael Renner had great things to say about Gibson when he scouted him back in January:

Gibson is a unique evaluation, to say the least. While some of the running backs on this list are closing in on 1,000 career touches, Gibson has all of 77 touches in his Memphis career, the vast majority of which came in the second half of 2019. It’s difficult to be more productive and elusive on such limited touches than Gibson was, though. He broke 17 tackles on 38 receptions this past season, and he broke 16 tackles on 33 rushes. The power and balance he showed as a runner was special, not to mention the receiving ability he showed. Gibson played the role filled by Tony Pollard last year when he split time between running back and the slot. We saw how well prepared Pollard looked as a pass-catcher in 2019, and I’d expect Gibson to have similar results.

Roles Antonio Gibson Could Play with the Patriots

The Patriots signed Damiere Byrd last month, and he has a great chance to be a kick/punt returner and slot receiver, but if the team found a way to draft Gibson, he’d immediately challenge for some of the return duties.

Despite his speed and experience playing receiver, he’s probably better suited to play running back in the NFL. His ability to run the ball with power, and be a major weapon out of the backfield as a receiver–especially when matched against linebackers–could make him more dangerous than White.

The Patriots would be crazy not to consider him if he’s available in the third round, and Gibson might be worthy of trading up or back into the second.

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