The Cleveland Browns have signed cornerback Justin Gilbert, ESPN's Chris Mortensen reports.
The Cleveland Browns will have all of their rookies in for the start of training camp at the end of this week, now that they have signed cornerback Justin Gilbert.
ESPN's Chris Mortensen was the first to report Gilbert's signing.
The No. 8 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, Gilbert registered 182 total tackles -- 157 of which were solo stops -- broke up 27 passes and intercepted 12 others in 51 career games at Oklahoma State University.
"Justin Gilbert the player, he's long; he's fast," Browns general manager Ray Farmer said in a release after making the pick back in May. "He's explosive. He's a playmaker. He plays like a Brown. (The) number one thing we talk about when we talk about corners is they've got to cover like Browns. He's got great arm length. He's got the speed. He's got the ball skills.
"I know some people have questioned his tackling. Tackling was good, but it doesn't necessarily need to be great. We understand exactly who he is, what he is. We think he can make plays for us. He's going to play relentless. He's going to play at the line of scrimmage and press people. He's able to do things we need him to do."
Gilbert comes into the NFL after a career year with seven interceptions in 2013. He also returned 18 kickoffs for 453 yards, earned first-team All-American honors from The NFL Draft Report, Football Writers Association, and Walter Camp, and was also a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, which is given annually to the best collegiate cornerback.
He will line up opposite of Browns Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden, and is the latest addition to a secondary that has been revamped with the signings of safety Donte Whitner and cornerback Isaiah Trufant in free agency.
"Joe Haden, Justin Gilbert, Donte Whitner, I'm getting excited," Farmer said. "I probably shouldn't go there. We're excited about having corners that we think can go out, play press, get after people and give us a chance to turn the ball over.
"We've improved our defense. We're going to do some other things to make our overall team better, but we definitely like the corner combination that we're going to have. Hopefully, we keep those guys together for a long time."
If it is one thing a football team wants in its cornerbacks, it is confidence. And confidence is exactly what Gilbert plans to bring to the Browns' secondary.
"(They're getting) an every-down cornerback that can guard big receivers or small receivers," Gilbert said in a conference call shortly after becoming a top-10 pick in the draft. "I can pretty much do it all, and I'm a guy that can create turnovers, give the ball back to our offense a lot. I'm just an all-around cornerback."
The 6-foot, 202-pound native of Huntsville, Texas, built a reputation as a ball-hawking defensive back after collecting 12 interceptions in his four years with Oklahoma State.
"That's something that you can't really coach," Gilbert said. "I think you have to be born with it. I think I was born with that ability to make plays on the ball. It's something that I can work at, and get a little better, but I think I have that natural thing where I can go and take the ball out of the air at any moment."
While being chosen by the Browns "kind of crept up" on Gilbert, he plans on helping turn around the fortunes of a franchise that has had six straight double-digit losing seasons.
"I think I'll fit in well," Gilbert said. "It's something that I've been doing since I came to Oklahoma State, press coverage, man-to-man, and being able to run with receivers down the field and taking the ball out of the air or making plays on the ball.
"I think I can turn it around. It starts with the defense and we made the right decision with getting me, and we're going to continue to build and just work hard. I think it'll turn around in a couple years, so I'm looking forward to it."