September 1, 2003
Texans Should Hold Him
by Keith Weiland
With the onset of televised poker sweeping the nation, it is fitting that a man named Gamble could be in the Texans’ future. Chris Gamble, that is. He’s the all-everying, do-anything football player for Ohio State that could make General Manager Charley Casserly go “all-in” when the chips are down next April.
On Saturday night, Gamble and his Buckeye teammates lined up against the offensive juggernaut from Washington, and they played all night with house money, winning 28-9. For draftniks like myself, the highlight of the game was in watching Gamble go head-to-head with perhaps the most electrifying wide receiver prospect in the country, 6’4” Reggie Williams.
The smart money should have been on Gamble. Coming off last year’s championship game in which he didn’t let Miami’s (and now the Texans’) Andre Johnson become a factor, Gamble had the confidence to pull off anything. At 6’2”, he had the height to challenge Williams, and though he gave up at least thirty pounds, he flew around the field like he didn’t weigh a thing.
The postgame boxscore deceptively indicates that Williams had a decent game against Gamble, but that just isn’t true. Williams did collect 10 passes for 107 yards, but only two of them came with Gamble in coverage. Those two receptions combined totaled ten yards at most. Williams’ other eight catches for the evening came when either Gamble blitzed, Williams moved inside to the slot while Gamble covered someone else, or Gamble stood on the sideline with the game already decided.
Playing a nine-yard cushion on Williams most of the night, Gamble let Williams take the short stuff but gave him nothing after the catch. He nearly jumped in front of the pass on one occasion for an interception.
As a corner who switched from wide receiver, Gamble plays corner unlike most. Instinctive on the field, he plays with a tremendous amount of awareness. Gamble watches the ball and the quarterback as much as he watches his man.
Gamble is not without his faults though. He tends to guess on a receiver’s route, so there are going to be times when he guesses wrong. He guessed wrong at least once on Saturday. Gamble bit on a double move and let Williams beat him by a step, but the pass was overthrown and incomplete.
Gamble also lacks some of the finer points of the position, such as when he was flagged for pass interference in the third quarter when he got to the receiver too soon before the football. His tackling is unrefined, but it is physical and aggressive.
The Texans mustn’t just bluff with Gamble in next April’s draft. Aaron Glenn is a Pro Bowler, but he’ll be 32 and entering his eleventh NFL season in 2004. The other corner, Marcus Coleman, will be 30. Even more importantly, Coleman will be in the final year of a contract that eats an estimated $4.3 million of the Texans’ 2004 salary cap, with roughly $3.1 million that might be saved in base salary if the Texans were desperate enough for the space and the savings.
While Gamble may not be the best true corner on the board, Gamble is someone with the athletic ability, poise, and stamina to become one of the best at the corner position in time. His experience as a star player on a national championship stage should give him an edge in NFL war rooms.
Tune in, drop out… If you’re going to spend your Saturday watching college football, here’s what I think you should be keeping an eye on this weekend…
Florida @ Miami, 7pm CT, ABC – Don’t be surprised if a Hurricane game is the focus in this space several times this fall. Aside from being an NFL player factory for the past few drafts, Miami has two underclassman players that start the season as #1 and #2 on my Texans draft board. Defensive tackle Vince Wilfork could become a monster in Houston’s 3-4 scheme, and he plays at a position that on the Texans’ roster is lacking in depth and talent. Same goes for safety Sean Taylor, a 6’3” 225-pound freak that can play sideline-to-sideline. For the Gators, senior tackle Max Starks is a first or second round guy that would look good protecting David Carr on Sundays.
Keith Weiland’s articles are for exhibition purposes only. No wagering please. Chris Gamble Home