“We’re excited about this kid. He’s a Swiss army knife,” Kyle Smith, the Redskins’ vice president of player personnel, said during a conference call.
Gibson, who spent two years at a junior college before transferring to Memphis, only played significantly for the Tigers last season. As a senior, he rushed 33 times for 369 yards and four touchdowns and also caught 38 passes for 735 yards and eight touchdowns.
Rivera compared Gibson to Christian McCaffrey, the dynamic running back he coached for the Carolina Panthers who has played a key role as a runner and a pass-catcher.
“He’s a little bit bigger than Christian, but he’s got a skill set like Christian,” Rivera said.
Gibson sounded pleased with the comparison.
“I would definitely like to compare myself to him; that is exactly what I want to do,” he said. “I want to be in the backfield, but I also want to be in the receiving game.”
Later, he added: “If the Redskins want me as a running back, I’m going to do it. If the Redskins want me as a receiver, I’m going to do it. If they want me on special teams, I’m going to do it."
One of the Redskins’ biggest needs this offseason has been wide receiver; the team has little beyond 2019 third-round pick Terry McLaurin, who had a breakout season as a rookie. Washington was without a second-round pick, having traded it to Indianapolis last year to move up in the first round and draft pass rusher Montez Sweat. When the team’s only selection Friday came up two picks into the third round, Washington had several skilled wide receivers and tight ends as possibilities.
Smith and Rivera quickly agreed on Gibson, whom they had coveted since they met with him at the Senior Bowl and the combine. Both see Gibson as an athlete who can play running back, slot receiver and even outside receiver while also showing a willingness to block. He can also contribute on special teams; he averaged 28.0 yards on kickoff returns in 2019.
“He will be a guy who will get on the field for us early,” Rivera said.
Gibson joins Ohio State edge rusher Chase Young, selected with the second pick in Thursday’s first round, in Washington’s draft class.
Even as the Redskins added to their offense Friday, they have not been able to trade star left tackle Trent Williams, prolonging a standoff between the team and the seven-time Pro Bowl player that has lasted for almost a year.
Rivera gave Williams permission to seek a trade March 5 after attempts to mend a broken relationship between Williams and former team president Bruce Allen — which led to Williams missing all of last season — fell apart. Other teams have either not been willing to meet Williams’s asking price on a new contract or the Redskins’ demand for a second-round draft pick or something equivalent.
“At the end of the day, guys, there’s no rush. There’s no hurry. We have opportunities, and we will continue to keep working on it,” Rivera said Friday when asked about trading Williams.
The trade market for Williams seemingly grew smaller Thursday when two clubs in need of an offensive tackle, the Cleveland Browns and New York Jets, selected one early in the first round. Another tackle-needy team that had shown interest in Williams, the Minnesota Vikings, chose a tackle in the second round Friday.
A person familiar with the Redskins’ plans said the team will not give Williams away for what it believes to be insufficient compensation, and that person added that Rivera might be willing to wait and see whether Williams will return to Washington if the team is unable to trade him, figuring Williams would not want to sit out back-to-back seasons.
When asked Friday whether he is prepared to keep Williams if a trade can’t be made, Rivera responded: “We’ll have to wait and see. I’m not going to speculate on something that’s an ongoing process right now.”
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