Jarron Gilbert the No.1 draft choice of the Chicago Bears in the 2009 NFL Draft came to the “windy city” carrying a you tube clip with him that would be primarily responsible for his potential draft status. After unloading starting QB Kyle Orton (21-17 as a starter) along with two first rounders (18th overall in 2009 and 2010 No.1) and a third round pick to land the inconsistent, confident Jay Cutler (17-20 as a starter.) The Bears first selection would come in the third round with the 68th overall pick. That pick would equal…. Jarron Gilbert.
A versatile defensive lineman coming out of San Jose State, Gilbert was viewed as a “high risk… high reward” type player . His size (6’5″ 285 lbs), speed, (4.76 40 yard dash) and raw talent (22.5 sacks and 42 tackles for a loss in his collegiate career) made him a rare talent. While in college in 2008 a video would surface of Gilbert demonstrating rare strength. He would stand flat footed in a 3 ft shallow end of a pool, only to jump out and land flat onto his feet on the the pool deck. This video made Gilbert an internet superstar receiving thousands of hits daily. Gaining notoriety on the web would garish he attention of many NFL scouts. He would attend the NFL combine logging impressive numbers and keeping scouts intrigued with the unknown prospect. He would land with the Chicago Bears in the third round of the 2008 NFL draft. He was the type of player that fit in Lovie Smith’s versatile, gritty, tough defense.
Gilbert’s NFL career was off to a slow start as he struggled with the playbook and defensive assignment.Gilbert’s new found hype would increasingly fizzle as his rookie campaign would progress. Standing in unfamiliar territory deep on the Bears depth chart, there was no sign of consistent playing time heading his way. Because of versatility demonstrated in college Gilbert was listed for all positions on the defensive line as their was still no clear cut position that he filled. A healthy Tommie Harris had solidified his role locked into the starting defensive tackle, after years of battling constant knee issues. Filling the other defensive tackle role in Lovie Smith’s 4-3 defense was Anthony Adams The defensive end positions were being filled in platoon type fashion with players that were built more for speed. Adewale Ogunleye, Alex Brown, promising youngster Mark Anderson and newly acquired Gaines Adams filled the positions adequately, leaving Gilbert on the bench. He saw limited action in his rookie campaign finding himself as a near mainstay on the inactive list. He would appear in a mere 4 games, logging a lack luster single tackle for the season.
Entering training camp Gilbert was primed to make a move on the depth chart as the Bears made significant changes to their line. Former top 5 pick out of Clemson Gaines Adams unexpectedly passed away in the off-season due to an enlarged heart, Alex Brown found a new home with the Saints, and Adewale Ogunleye was not resigned. There were three positions on the line left ripe for the picking. Gilbert was given the opportunity as coaches would advise him to cut weight and settle in at a potential defensive end spot. Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli employs starters and contributors that display fire and passion and work ethic. A quality that Gilbert would be criticized for lacking. He was told to lose 20 pounds in preparation for the switch to end. He showed up at 270 and still no apparent burst off the line. A critical attribute that was necessary to be a contributor for the pass rushing defense.
The 2010 pre-season would be Gilbert’s last shot to turn some heads in Chicago. Again, Gilbert proved to be a player that wouldn’t fit into the scheme and the Bears would elect to make Gilbert a camp casualty as they made their final roster cuts entering the 2010 season. The New York Jets and the ever eccentric Head Coach Rex Ryan, featured on HBO’s Hard Knocks still saw flashes of a potential NFL defensive lineman. Coach Ryan, known for his defensive coaching prowess assigned Gilbert to the practice squad where he and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine could take the time to potentially develop Gilbert and make him an active contributor on defense.
Jarron Gilbert is currently categorized as a Youtube casualty. Perhaps among the likes of the “Star Wars Kid” or “David After Dentist”. If he is going to make in the NFL he is in the best possible situation under Rex Ryan’s regime. Ryan is known for constructing a defense built for success. As the son of former defensive minded NFL head coach Buddy Ryan and as the former defensive coordinator for the famous Baltimore Ravens defense powered by Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and Ed Reed. Ryan has the tools and the staff to mold and mentor Gilbert into a professional football player , the question remains if he has the patience. Former top ten pick Vernon Gohlston has also been taken under Ryan’s wing in the hopes of reviving his “pass rush” reputation that he was drafted for out of Ohio State. What Jarron Gilbert’s career has is in store for him remains to be seen.