Round 5: West Virginia WR Shelton Gibson – 5-11, 195 – 4.34 – Junior
Previous Pick: Texas A&M WR Josh Reynolds
After drafting Reynolds in the fourth round, the Bucs add another weapon for quarterback Jameis Winston in Gibson, a speedster who averaged an eye-opening 22.6 yards per catch average at West Virginia. Gibson has the jets to run the deep go routes and posts and take the top off the defense, or he can take a bubble screen or a quick slant to the house.
Gibson, a junior entry, didn’t have the benefit of playing with a great quarterback at West Virginia and that hampered his production. NFL scouts believe the best is yet to come with Gibson, who plays bigger than his 5-foot-11, 195-pound frame would indicate.
Gibson’s West Virginia Career Stats
2016: 43 catches for 951 yards (22.1 avg.) with 8 TDs and a long of 71 yards
2015: 37 catches for 887 yards (24.0 avg.) with 9 TDs and a long of 70 yards
2014: 4 catches for 60 yards (15.0 avg.) with 0 TDs and a long of 47 yards
The sure-handed Gibson only had two dropped passes during his junior year and he attributes that to Vanessa, the name of the football he carries with him wherever he goes on campus. He had another football he named Vickie that he used to carry around with him during his sophomore year, but he gave that ball to Wendell Smallwood when he left for the NFL last year. He had seven drops while spending time with Vickie, so he’s glad he’s moved on to Vanessa.
“The reason I give it a name like a wife is because I love football,” Gibson said. “If you love football, you might as well just marry your ball. It’s kind of funny because you’re really cuddling up with a ball. I laugh it at sometimes.”
The time Shelton spends with Vanessa has paid off, evidenced by this acrobatic 52-yard catch he made against Kansas State’s All-Big 12 cornerback D.J. Reed, who ripped Gibson’s helmet off during the catch.
Gibson is a big talker and the verbal sparring he engages in with cornerbacks fires him up and motivates him.
“He’s going to talk to you and he’s going to tell you, ‘I’m going to beat you this whole game, and there’s nothing you can do about it. You’d better ask for help,’” West Virginia’s Rasul Douglas, an NFL-caliber cornerback, told the Charleston Gazette. “That’s Shelton. After the play, he’s going to let you know, ‘I just beat you. You’re lucky the ball wasn’t thrown. You’ve got to make sure you dominate Shelton. If you don’t, you’re going to hear it the whole game.”
Tampa Bay head coach Dirk Koetter made it clear that his offense needs more explosive plays and that’s exactly what the Cleveland, Ohio native brings to the table. Gibson had 14 catches of 40 yards or more at West Virginia, including 10 from 50 yards or more. If he runs below a 4.4 at the NFL Scouting Combine in February he’s destined to be drafted higher than the fifth round.
Gibson can also help the Bucs on special teams as a kick returner. He averaged 23.5 yards per return during his Mountaineers career, and averaged 32.8 yards per return during his sophomore year, returning a kick 100 yards for a touchdown against Baylor. Tampa Bay had the league’s worst kick return in 2017 and that’s another area where Gibson can help the Buccaneers.
Click below to view Tampa Bay’s sixth-round pick in 2017.