NFL Draft Analysis: Cornerback Zyon Gilbert’s physicality will grant him chances to play in NFL defenses

As the all-time leader in games played at FAU, Gilbert has solidified himself as one of the most consistent players in the draft.


Eston Parker III

University Press stock photo of #24 cornerback Zyon Gilbert playing defense on the road against the University of Florida Gators.

Trey Avant, Staff Writer

With the 2022 NFL Draft set to begin on Thursday, April 28, the University Press will evaluate the FAU football players eligible for the upcoming event. Today, we take a look at cornerback Zyon Gilbert.

As one of the most consistent players throughout his five seasons with the team, Gilbert had another excellent year this past season. He finished the 2021 season with 50 total tackles (34 solo), 10 passes defended, one sack, one forced fumble, and two interceptions. 

Gilbert was fifth in the conference in passes defended and was an honorable mention on the C-USA 2021 All-Conference Teams, which was his third straight season of receiving the honor. 

At FAU’s Pro Day, Gilbert turned heads after running a 4.40-second 40-yard dash, which would have him tied for 11th among cornerbacks at the NFL Draft Combine. He also recorded a 40-inch vertical jump, which would make him the runner-up among cornerbacks at the combine, and a broad jump of 11.6 feet, which would have led all cornerbacks at the combine. 

Although his physical profile is impressive, Gilbert still projects as an undrafted talent who has the potential to make the end of an NFL roster or practice squad.

Here are the strengths and weaknesses of Gilbert and what he can bring to an NFL roster.


Gilbert is a long and physical corner whose game is predicated on his intelligence, speed, and explosiveness. 

He does a nice job of recognizing plays as they develop, which makes him a great fit for a zone coverage-heavy team in the NFL. He is also an opportunistic defender when the ball is in the air, with good instincts and anticipation. 

Gilbert plays even faster than his 40-yard dash suggests and his aggressiveness and physicality make him a solid option when it comes to defending against the run and, on occasion, rushing the passer.


Standing at six-foot-one-inch and 182 pounds, Gilbert has a relatively small frame for a cornerback and he needs to get stronger if he wants to compete at the next level, as bigger receivers can bully him. 

While Gilbert has exceptional speed, he lacks the quickness needed to react to shifty receivers.

He is at his best when in off-man coverage where he does not have to physically engage with the receiver early on in the route and can use his speed to close the gap if he gets beat.

His pursuit skills and aggressiveness when attacking ball carriers can be hit-or-miss, leading to missed tackles and big gains at times. 

Draft Projection

Gilbert is an athletic and feisty corner with a nose for the ball but lacks the size and quickness to be a regular contributor on an NFL defense. 

His profile does give him the potential to latch on as a special teamer or practice squad player for a team like the Chicago Bears, Arizona Cardinals, Green Bay Packers, or Detroit Lions who are in need of a solid corner with great developmental traits. 

Trey Avant is a staff writer for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @TreyAvant3.