Reggie Gilbert was a four year starter for the Arizona Wildcats, in his time there he registered 143 tackles and 14 sacks in 57 games between 2011 and 2015. Gilbert entered the 2016 NFL Draft but was not selected and chose to sign with the Packers as a UDFA despite numerous offers from other NFL teams.
After spending all of last season on the practice squad in Green Bay, Gilbert hopes to make the leap to the 53 man roster this season and I recently caught up with him to get his thoughts on how he felt last season went for him, what he’s been doing during the offseason and his goals for this upcoming season.
Where have you gone to work out this offseason?
Reggie: I have been training out in Phoenix, AZ at this facility called Fischer Institute.
You had a number of different options last year, why did you choose to join the Packers as a UDFA?
Reggie: I chose the Packers because me and my agent discussed all our options and figured the Packers gave me the best opportunity to succeed and accomplish what I want to accomplish.
What do you think you did well last season as a rookie and what do you think you can still improve on?
Reggie: I felt like I showed that I can rush the passer and play the run last year. I would like to improve my game all around from rushing the passer to dropping in coverage. I have been working on all of those things this offseason.
How much different does year two feel to year one so far?
Reggie: The difference is night and day from this year compared to last year. Playing a new position than I did in college, there was a transition period for me. I am more comfortable at the OLB position now and also more comfortable with the playbook. Things have really settled down for me and I know it would show in the fall.
How do you think spending a season on the practice squad has benefitted you?
Reggie: Spending a season on the practice squad allowed me to develop as a player and helped me find my identity as a pass rusher. I was able to learn from all of the older guys and I really benefitted from competing with the starters everyday.
How do you feel OTA’s and minicamp went for you?
Reggie: OTA’s and Mini Camp went really well for me, I definitely felt more comfortable out there on defense as well as on special teams.
Do you feel ready to make the jump from the practice squad to the 53 man roster?
Reggie: Yes I do feel like I am ready to make the jump, I have been working hard and its been paying off. I’m ready to contribute to and help the team win.
How do you feel the Packers depth at OLB is?
Reggie: I feel like we have a lot of good players in our room. Each one of us brings something different to the table.
How has the transition from playing on the D-line in college to playing as a hybrid OLB in the NFL gone?
Reggie: Early on in my first year there was definitely a transition period for me to playing OLB. But I definitely got more comfortable as the year went on. Some good things that we worked on as defensive lineman were also transferable to playing linebacker.
What impact do you think you can make for this defense?
Reggie: I feel I can help the defense out by being a playmaker in the run game as well as rushing the passer.
Who do you think the leaders are on the current Packers defense?
How much did you learn from watching players like Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers play last season?
Reggie: I learned a lot from those guys. They are some of the best at what they do. I learned a lot from all of the OLBs last year, just tried to soak in as much as I could
What’s it like facing Aaron Rodgers in practice every day?
Reggie: He still amazes me with some of the things I see him do. Definitely have to make sure your on your game.
How have you adjusted to learning how to play on special teams?
Reggie: I feel like I’ve adjusted pretty well this year definitely more comfortable in that phase of the game now. I really didn’t play any special teams in college so that was something that I’ve been working on trying to get better at as well
How deep do you think the 2017 Packers team can go?
Reggie: I think that we could win it all.