Saying he was just "learning the small little things" away from being A.J. Green is... well, I mean, it's those small little things that separate the athletes from the actual good wide receivers that are dominant at the position. The WR bust rate is so huge because the position is pretty much based off of those intricacies and a lot of guys can't master them.
You're betting on his natural talent and I get that. You could be 100% right for all we know. Look at a guy like Malik Hooker... didn't know what the hell he was doing when he got here because he was as raw as could be, but he figured things out and fairly quickly, and boom... top 15 pick after one year starting. So I know it's possible, but...
If you look at the projected rotation as it stood during camp, you would have a hard time finding exactly where Gibson eventually would have fit in. As of a week ago, the top six receivers were some combination of Noah Brown, Parris Campbell, Corey Smith, Curtis Samuel, Dontre Wilson and Austin Mack. You could add Terry McLaurin into that mix, and Johnnie Dixon had a very good camp as well. Then there's K.J. Hill, who nearly played last season as a true freshman. You also have James Clark, Alex Stump, and Binjimen Victor.
With all of those names, Gibson would likely factor in somewhere around position eight or nine in the receiver rotation, especially early. There is little doubt that they would have tried to find reps for him, but reps are going to be very difficult to come by for the receivers who aren't in the top seven or eight.
So how do they replace what he could have given them? By simply moving forward. This receiver group is full of fast players like Gibson. They might not all have the same physical characteristics, but the basics are the same — run fast, run smart, catch the ball. Surely, there is a receiver in the tenth or eleventh position who can move up a spot and provide that.
Knowing what we know now, McLaurin would basically become almost a starter in that rotation, and so would K.J. Hill. Victor was sort of in the same boat as Gibson; too raw to play many minutes, but the potential was there. The difference being Victor had played the position his whole life, so who knows who would have won that battle for PT. I guess I could see it more as being a huge loss if Gibson had really lit it up in the spring and established himself as a top 3 WR on what most would consider an underwhelming unit instead of being the 8th or 9th man in the rotation.
I really wish Gibson would just play WR at Cincinnati... he's doing nothing but hurting himself if he stays at QB for the next 3 seasons and then tries to transition to WR in a few months before the NFL draft.