Count Ryan Fitzpatrick among the many to question what first-round pick Stephon Gilmore originally thought about coming to Buffalo.
When Gilmore walked across the stage at Radio City Music Hall to receive his Bills jersey from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, he hardly looked like a man who was living out his long-awaited dream, the exact dream he once had as a 7-year-old. He looked more like he was heading for a root canal.
Turns out, that's just Gilmore's even-keeled personality. He's all business, all the time.
“I can tell you that my opinion of him has changed from draft day when I saw him get drafted and have no emotion or expression on his face,” Fitzpatrick said. “Now I understand why, knowing him. It wasn't that he was upset to be in Buffalo, he just has such a quiet confidence about him. He's genuinely a great guy.”
“Knowing him now, that reaction makes sense. That's him, that's his personality.”
After a terrific start with Buffalo, Gilmore may want to work on some more boisterous celebrations because it certainly looks like he has a long, productive career ahead of him. The rookie has been a standout at Bills camp, displaying the skills that made him the 10th overall pick in April's draft.
Gilmore has quickly ascended to the top of the depth chart at his position, and for good reason. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound CB is unusually polished for a rookie and yields little separation in the passing game.
To no surprise, his workmanlike approach has been a major plus. CBs must stay in the moment and quickly move on from one play to the next.
“The thing about Stephon I found is he's very consistent,” coach Chan Gailey said. “There's no up and down in the guy. What you see every day is what you get every day, and that's been a pleasant surprise. A lot of times with rookies, if something bad happens to ‘em they go in the tank. He's pretty strong in that area. ... He just comes to work every day, which is good.”
“It ain't easy,” Gilmore said. “You've got to take every play like it's your last because there's a lot of great players on this team, and I've got to work hard against them.”
One of the most intriguing battles to watch at camp has been Gilmore against WR Steve Johnson. After sitting out nearly all of the spring with a groin injury, Johnson has challenged Gilmore at every practice. Each player has had his share of victories, but the rookie has held his own.
“He gets me better everyday,” Gilmore said. “I'm trying to get him better. I'm trying to show him some stuff that I know. He's a great receiver, I'm trying to learn from him, compete against him. I know he's one of the greatest receivers in the league right now, so that's a great thing to go up against him every day.”
“He's played well ever since he's been putting on that uniform,” Johnson said of Gilmore. “He's a great talent. I don't want to put too much on him, because he hasn't played a game yet, but from the looks of it it looks like he's going to be a gamer.”
Maybe Johnson, who is known for his controversial touchdown celebrations as much as his play on the field, can also teach the rookie about loosening up along the way.
“Nah, nah,” Johnson said with a laugh. “He can stay in his lane. If he wants to celebrate, he'll celebrate. ... He's good with what he is.”