Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.

Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.

Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.

Bowl Watch: Oklahoma State CB Justin Gilbert

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated: January 3, 2014 - 4:23 PM

There’s two bowls games on Friday: Ohio State vs. Clemson in the Orange Bowl and Oklahoma State vs. Missouri in the Cotton Bowl. Each team has a potential first rounder on its roster, but we’re focusing on Cowboys senior cornerback Justin Gilbert tonight given the Vikings’ need at the position in the offseason.

The numbers:

Sophomore (2011): 59 tackles (47 solo), five interceptions (ranked 14th nationally), 10 pass defended, one fumble recovery, one tackle for loss… 26 kickoffs for 703 return yards and two touchdowns

Junior (2012): 63 tackles (56 solo), zero interceptions, nine pass defended, one forced fumble, two tackles for losses (Defensive MVP of 2012 Fiesta Bowl)... 32 kickoffs for 827 return yards (second highest total in school history) and one touchdown (All-Big 12 second team return specialist)

Senior (2013): 40 tackles (35 solo), six interceptions (tied sixth nationally), two touchdowns, seven pass defended (All-Big 12 first team defensive back)…16 kickoffs for 425 return yards and one touchdown


ESPN’s Todd McShay (1.0 Mock): Top 17 pick (order not updated since season ended)…first cornerback taken

ESPN’s Scouts Inc’s Top 32: Gilbert ranked 12th overall…best cornerback on the board with 92 grade’s Rob Rang: 30th overall to the Carolina Panthers…third cornerback taken behind Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard and Oregon’s Ifo Ekpre-Olomu’s Dane Brugler: 25th overall to the Cincinnati Bengals… third cornerback taken behind Dennard and Ekpre-Olomu

Gilbert’s stock has been rising all season after a junior year where he remarkably didn’t record an interception. He picked off Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Ryan Tannehill during his sophomore season and some felt he had a shot at leaving early.

Perhaps another young cornerback isn’t what the Vikings need with Xavier Rhodes and Josh Robinson, but there is a need at the position. The six-foot, 199-pound cornerback hasn’t missed a game over the last three seasons.

What to watch:

Gilbert will be matched up against one of Missouri’s tall receivers in L’Damian Washington (6’4) and Dorial Green-Beckham (6’6). The Tigers will throw jump balls to both receivers as they have all season. It’ll be a great matchup to see how Gilbert will look in man coverage no matter who he is defending.


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