Patrick Gamble — DT, Georgia Tech
Height – 6’5″
Weight – 277 lbs.
Age – 23
At First Glance
Like our previous prospect, Aaron Cooper, Gamble stayed in his home state to play college football. The three-star recruit was born in Lagrange, Georgia but eventually moved to nearby Carrollton, where he grew up and enjoyed success on the basketball court and football field.
Before committing to Georgia Tech in 2011, Gamble fielded offers from Boston College, Georgia, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and other Power 5 programs. But the hybrid defensive end/defensive tackle stayed true to his original commitment and enrolled with the Yellow Jackets in 2012.
Gamble’s transition to the collegiate level didn’t come without its hurdles. “As a longtime defensive end moving inside to play defensive tackle was a new challenge,” he said in an interview with the program’s website. “I needed the help of my coaches and support of me teammates…to help me adjust.”
His adjustment was an investment, one that paid off in the 23-year-old’s final season at Georgia Tech. After compiling just 69 tackles in his first 25 games, Gamble exploded in 2016, finishing the year with 53 tackles, ten tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, and three sacks.
He did all this with a torn labrum, which was surgically repaired in the offseason. “I played my entire senior year with the hip injury,” Gamble recently said. “I had surgery in January and the recovery time is three to five months. I should be able to do some field stuff by June.”
Gamble was an honorable mention All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection in 2016.
In an interview with NFL Draft Diamonds, Gamble noted his hands, length, and football IQ separate him from others at defensive tackle. He also called his hands and his arm length his “biggest strength.”
When talking about a defensive tackle’s hands, we’re speaking in a different context than that of a quarterback’s hand size or a receiver’s ability to catch a football. For tackles like Gamble, having “active hands” and a powerful punch are key attributes when rushing the passer or defending the run.
A player in Gamble’s position should have the hand strength to engage and shed oncoming linemen, as well as the intense burst to disrupt a block at the line of scrimmage. These are skills Jim Cobern identified in his film study of Gamble, giving the prospect passing marks in “active punch” and “sheds blocks” categories.
From the Rumble Seat, a blog dedicated to Yellow Jackets football, highlighted Gamble’s success as a 3-technique defensive tackle. For reference, the 3-technique is the outside shade of the offensive guard, or, where Sharrif Floyd and Shamar Stephen align in Mike Zimmer’s defense.
According to the site, Gamble showed the ability to push through one-on-one blocks and held his ground in straight-on double team situations. Gamble also provides value on field goal teams, where he’s used his length to block kicks and create game-changing opportunities.
There’s a reason Gamble only received 67 points out of a possible 100 from Cobern — he lacks in flexibility, fluidity, and consistency. While Cobern believes Gamble is flexible enough to maintain proper leverage, he does not show excellent flexibility for his size.
Contrary to Gamble’s proclamation of a high football IQ, Cobern did not give passing marks to the tackle for his on-field knowledge or reliability under pressure. Thus, Gamble’s combined issues manifest themselves in the form of a below-average pass rush grade from Cobern — 9/18.
As a lighter interior defensive lineman, Gamble does not possess an effective bull rush or push-pull move, which are vital tools in any tackle’s arsenal. If he’s to make the transition inside at the professional level, it’s imperative Gamble adds some bulk to his frame and power to his rush.
These weaknesses create a conundrum for front offices. Gamble didn’t shine until his senior season, capping an inconsistent collegiate career with a stat line that’s sure to raise some eyebrows. But one season doesn’t make a player, and Gamble’s year-to-year variance is a microcosm of his game-to-game performances.
He wasn’t a dominant player throughout games but made splash plays in major moments. Gamble’s injury could be to blame, but sustained reliability, wherever he’s lined up, will be essential to long-term success for Gamble in the NFL.
NFL Player Comparison
The Vikings Slant
Should the Vikings take a “gamble” on Gamble? There’s certainly need at defensive tackle heading into 2017, but Gamble is not the plug-and-play answer for Minnesota.
General manager Rick Spielman will likely explore his options in free agency and the NFL Draft, making Gamble more of a potential luxury pick in the sixth and seventh round of the draft. Like Kentrell Brothers before him, Gamble represents an undersized collegiate defender with the proven track record to contribute immediately on special teams.
He’s the type of high-character player Spielman likes to draft with the physical traits — long arms, specifically — Zimmer can develop over time. With question marks surrounding Sharrif Floyd’s future in Minnesota, building necessary depth next to Linval Joseph is critical to the Vikings’ future as a premier defensive unit; Gamble is a viable candidate for this role.