Year three is when wide receivers are supposed to put it all together. The Rams' newest wideout, Mike Sims-Walker, knows all about that. After two injury-marred years in Jacksonville he exploded for 63 catches, 869 yards and seven touchdowns in his third season. (Call it coincidence, but he spent that entire year lining up next to Torry Holt.)
So it was interesting to hear his take on the most impressive Rams receiver so far in camp:
RT @illinilax: @mikesimswalker Which #RAMS WR has impressed you the most so far in practice?< Brandon Gibson!
And several other camp observers, including new RamsHerd correspondent Dane Pinkston (@danep12) would have to agree. Gibson has been running with the 1s on offense in 7-on-7s and 11-on-11s, and looking much smoother in his footwork in drills and more sure when catching the ball.
I was asked yesterday who my starting six* was for the Rams, and while it's admittedly very early, it's hard to leave Gibson off that list.
Like Sims-Walker yesterday afternoon, Gibson held his own Q&A with the fans via Twitter on Friday. Gibson was asked what he worked most on this offseason:
RT @EricFromSTL: @Bgibson04 What have you done this offseason to improv as a WR?---improved everything. Especially balance.
We published a similar Q&A with Gibson last year, and Gibson revealed that the receivers he patterns his game after include Eric Metcalf and the Giants' Steve Smith, two undersized players who made their bread with quick feet and sharp cuts. And that's evident when you see Gibson play -- he can cut on a dime, and would rather try to juke defenders than to blow past them or power through them.
However, at times his feet are a little too quick for his own good, it seems. From his electric 17-target debut in a Rams uniform, he has shown that he has more than enough game speed to play at the NFL level. But he's also looked more like a collection of parts on the field than a complete player to this point. After making a great catch he might not have his feet set on his next route when the ball comes in. Or he might be guilty of looking to turn upfield before the ball is in his hands. Or he might shuffle his feet one too many times while trying to juke his defender on a precision fade route and watch the ball float just out of reach.
These are the traits of a raw receiver that simply need to be ironed out with continued practice and tutelage. And getting to spend some time with luminaries like Torry Holt (in the player-sponsored workouts) and Isaac Bruce (in yesterday's camp), in addition to his work on balance, can only help.
If Gibson can keep up his strong start, and show mastery of Josh McDaniels' complex offense, we could be looking at the next third-year breakout at wide receiver.
* Incidentally, my starting six right now? I said Sims-Walker, Gibson, Amendola, Salas, Pettis, and Danario Alexander.
Editor's Note: Unfortunately, technical problems with the site prevented us from publishing @Danep12's full set of obvservations from yesterday's camp. My apologies to him and the readers, and hopefully we'll have more contributions from him soon.