College: Ohio State
Birthday: March 11, 1983
Strengths: Alarm clock. AM/FM radio. Flashlight. Having all of these things in a single product never ceases to amaze the general public, so it stands to reason that Chris Gamble might be the most amazing thing football fans have seen in a long time. Wide receiver. Cornerback. Punt returner. Kick returner. Heck, he’ll even mix in a reverse just to keep an opponent guessing.
Gamble went from being an emergency cornerback heading into the 2002 season to becoming a starter by midseason, then earning All-Big 10 and third team All-American at the position by season’s end. Oh, and he did so on a National Championship team, becoming the first true full-time two-way player in nearly four decades.
Blessed with natural ability, Gamble is a good leaper with a 40-inch vertical, and he might prove capable of posting 4.4 speed at the combine. He plays with confidence and an innate awareness of the game. Recruited as a receiver and second on the team on receptions, Gamble has some of the best hands of any corner on the collegiate level. And after participating in a whopping 128 plays as he did against Illinois last year, Gamble showed he has some freakish stamina and tremendous heart.
His rise to cult status among Buckeye fans began when he intercepted a pass in the end zone to preserve a win against Cincinnati, his first game last season as a defensive back. Gamble then continually outdid himself – an interception at the goalline to ensure a win against Wisconsin, a 58-yard run-down tackle against Penn State to save a touchdown in a 13-7 win (in which he also returned an interception for a touchdown), and another late interception to save victory against Purdue – but it was his physical containment of Andre Johnson (four catches for 54 yards) in the Fiesta Bowl that bronzed him as a shutdown cornerback.
Areas for Concern: It’s easy for fans and media to buy into the hoopla of Gamble’s unique position (or rather, positions), but in the NFL there are no prizes for multi-tasking. Gamble may need to stick to one thing and do it well to have a chance at proving his worth as a high pick. He hasn’t taken the cornerback position seriously in the past, at least relative to his role as a receiver, and he’s not been given much defensive coaching at Ohio State because of his responsibilities on offense learning how to draw double teams away from teammate Michael Jenkins.
His duality might lend to the evidence that Gamble is a natural football athlete, but he is extremely raw and only knows the basic cover techniques and man coverage schemes. When he played last year, he primarily did so when the ball was spotted inside the 20 so the coverage options could be simplified for him. His tackling is also suspect at times. As a receiver, he knows routes, but according to Illinois’ Brandon Lloyd, he guesses a lot on patterns and is susceptible to the hitch-and-go, so reliability is a concern.
How Does He Look in Steel Blue? Hard to see Gamble as being a two-way player in the NFL, but having someone with that much raw ability on Houston’s roster would be a welcomed addition. Quiet and soft-spoken, Gamble has strong work habits and plays with a lot of passion on the field, so he should be dream for any coach.
Gamble is still a junior, so it is uncertain whether he would forgo his senior season. Comparisons to players like Charles Woodson and Andre Woolfolk are sure to tempt some teams to consider him as a very high pick, and that could make it difficult for Gamble to stay in Columbus for 2004.
(profile written by Keith Weiland
Chris Gamble’s 2002 Stats G TCK PBU INT FF FR 11 24 6 4 0 0
Chris Gamble Return to The War Room
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