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NFL Draft 2011: Raiders FS Search—Marcus Gilchrist Edition

I think we are almost ready to conclude our 2011 NFL Draft free safety prospect odyssey...almost. However, there is one guy that I should probably throw into the mix since the Raiders have.

According to the good folks at the National Football Post Clemson defensive back Marcus Gilchrist worked out for Rod Woodson. Gilchrist played strong safety before switching to corner at Clemson. Scouts seem to feel he could play free safety and corner in the NFL. He has smallish to decent size at 5'10" and 195 pounds for either position.

He is a moderately explosive athlete, and an excellent kick returner. He ran a 4.45 40, a 38.5" vert at the Combine. He posted a 10'6" broad jump at his Pro Day. He also posted a crazy impressive 26 bench reps at the Combine. That was good for second best of all defensive backs at the combine. Let's see what the peeps are saying about him.

Gilchrist is an experience, durable defensive back with good intangibles who could potentially become a starter at corner in a zone-based scheme or make a move to free safety. Either way, will provide a defensive coordinator with depth at multiple spots and some scheme-versatility. Has experience as a kick returner. Real productive defensive back against the run but needs to do a better job handing more physical blockers. Can line up in a variety of places in the secondary and is comfortable playing zone but isn't going to lockdown a No. 1 wide receiver or stick with a play-making slot. Mid-round prospect.

That is not the scouting report of a Raider corner as he appears to much of a zone type player. However, that could work as a free safety.

Gilchrist has probably left that just mentioned mid-round prospect status behind him. His versatility and workouts have found him rising up draft boards. Aaron Wilson, in the linked NFP article, reports that he has heard the following from a source:

"Gilchrist's versatility as a cornerback, safety and returner has drawn high marks from teams with one NFL general manager remarking that he's one of the smarter defensive backs he's been around."

We have further evidence of his third-round status by's Joel Welser's:

"Gilchrist had a superb showing at the NFL Combine and his stock is slowly moving up. His ability to return kicks has separated him from some of the other cornerbacks in this class and that could be enough for Gilchrist to slip into the late second round. If not, he has certainly cemented his status as a third rounder."

Finally we go back to our friends at the NFP and highlight some of their thoughts for our final scouting take:

(Gilchrist) isn't real physical in any area of the game.Safety/corner hybrid who showcases the ability to take good angles toward the football vs. the run game and is a decent wrap-up guy. However, isn't a real physical striker, more of a drag down player who does a nice job breaking down on contact, but tends to simply catch ball carriers in most areas of the game.

Displays good range in the deep half, tracks the football well sideline-to-sideline and possesses impressive ball skills and body control in jump ball situations. Is a coordinated athlete who knows how to go up and come down with the tough grab. However, isn't the most instinctive of defensive backs at this stage.

Looks more like an NFL safety than corner to me. Possesses some natural athleticism, but could serve at worst as a solid nickel guy and work his way into a potential starter with some time.

Here is a good video, well not so good for Gilchrist, but good for us. These are highlights and lowlights versus Georgia Tech when he was still a strong safety. Gilchrist certainly is not a big hitter, but he looks to do a decent job with angles, and I say the jury is still out on his coverage skills.

There you have it. He is a little raw and a little light in the hits, but he is a solid athlete with good base skills. He is a bit of tweener, but that could serve the Raiders well initially as they could use the depth at both corner and safety, and I think we all know Al Davis has never shied away from the tweeners.