Trevis Gipson is a happy man these days. The third-year defensive end is coming off an excellent season where he finished with seven sacks and five forced fumbles. It was his coming-out party in many ways. That he was able to accomplish it playing a position he’d never played in college two years prior made it all the more impressive. Now the Chicago Bears are shifting back to a 4-3 defense under Matt Eberflus, and Gipson is thrilled. He feels this fits his style of play far better.
The timing might be perfect because the Bears can’t be sure what to expect from Robert Quinn. After his record-breaking 2021 season, the veteran Pro Bowler is skipping mandatory minicamps. That leaves his status with the team in question. Trade rumors have swirled around him for months now, especially after the departure of Khalil Mack. At 32-years-old, his age and contract make him an unlikely long-term fixture on this roster.
That means the defense could be leaning on Gipson more than ever.
They will also need somebody else to step up at defensive end. Early assumptions are that will be Al-Quadin Muhammad, the veteran Eberflus lured away from Indianapolis. He had six bags last year and would make a fine complement to Gipson. However, rookie Dominique Robinson is one to watch. He’s been getting lots of work with Quinn and Muhammad both absent. Gipson is shocked at how far along the 5th round pick already is.
“I would say he’s better than me (as a rookie), honestly,” Gipson said. “I think he has a lot more pass-rush attributes than I did coming in. He has more experience on the edge than I did. I think we take the same approach to the learning game, but overall, he’s a great student, great athlete, and I think he’s going to help us a lot.”
People must understand how incredible this statement is. Gipson played defensive end in high school and then all of college. He was well-prepared for the NFL. Robinson was a quarterback in high school, switched to wide receiver when he arrived for college, and then shifted to defensive end as a junior. Despite only two years of experience at the position, he’s further developed as a pass rusher than Gipson was when the Bears drafted him in 2020.
Trevis Gipson sees a complete player in Robinson.
Don’t be fooled by the lean body type. The rookie is a great athlete with speed and bend, but that masks his deceptive amount of power. He has more than one way to beat blockers. When that is the case, good pass rushers are born. Eberflus is no stranger to elevating late-round picks to success. Muhammad was a 6th rounder in New Orleans before being cut after one season. After three years of waiting for his shot in Indianapolis, he broke through last season as a starter.
Robinson is significantly more talented than he is. Several draft experts felt if he’d made the switch to defensive end sooner, he probably would’ve been selected much higher than the 5th round. That is how quickly he started flashing at the position. Trevis Gipson sees the same things the Bears scouts and front office did.
That is a young player scratching the surface of what he can do.
It is hard to tell where Robinson is right now because the Bears don’t have pads on. He’ll have to prove he can show the same ability once offensive tackles can actually put their bodies into him. If that doesn’t slow him down, it won’t be long before he sees lots of action on Sundays.
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