04/30/2012 - Playing in the AFC East vs. good quarterbacks, led by Tom Brady, the Bills set out to replenish their cornerback talent and did so in taking Stephon Gilmore (South Carolina) in the first round and Ron Brooks (LSU) in the fourth. Can Gilmore, selected 10th overall, challenge for a starting job as a rookie? "No question about it. No question, yes," coach Chan Gailey said. Gilmore is the latest piece in Buffalo overhauling a defense that ranked 30th in points allowed. Stud defensive ends Mario Williams and Mark Anderson were taken in free agency. "They have a great defense and they are just looking for a piece to help them be an even better defense," Gilmore said. "I hope I am that piece and I am going to come in and work hard, like I said, and make plays to help my team win." - The Sports Xchange
Several NFL scouts were enamored with the mental and physical abilities of this athletic corner and looking for a reason to push him up draft boards.
He gave them reason at the Scouting Combine when he quantified his speed with an unofficial 40 time of 4.40 seconds and had the second best time among defensive backs in the 20-yard shuttle (3.94). He also measured a full 1/4 inch over six feet tall. Gilmore plays with an astute awareness that makes him a dangerous defender to test.
He is a vocal team leader who understands everybody's role on defense and is especially effective in zone coverage where he seems to triangulate well, tracking both the quarterback and receivers. Gilmore is aggressive both going to the ball and coming up on the run, although he could use a little more bulk to hold up in the NFL.
Gilmore started at cornerback all 40 games the last three years and in 2011 made 46 tackles and led the team with four interceptions, giving him eight for his career. He was selected first-team All-SEC and third-team AP All American in 2010.
Man Coverage: Plays mostly in press-bail or off-coverage. Flashes a tough, aggressive punch after the snap in rare press coverage occasions, but may not have the strength to knock NFL receivers off their routes. Not elite transitioning forward from backpedal, will take an extra step or loop a bit when closing on slants. Lacks elite recovery and straight-line speed to stay with faster wideouts down the field if beaten on a double move or losing a step off the line.
Zone Coverage: Fits best in a zone system like he currently plays. Knows his, and others', assignments on every play. Comes out initial read quickly to stop the underneath route dead. Quick feet in off coverage to adjust to inside routes, even when playing outside technique. Explodes to plays in front of him, cutting down his target or wrapping up if able to line up the receiver. Forces turnovers and dropped passes with his ability to arrive strong at the receiver with the ball.
Ball Skills: Makes quarterbacks pay for poor throws with centerfielder-like instincts and hands. Uses his height in full advantage on jump balls, make difficult catches with his hands extended away from his frame. Excellent elusiveness after the catch that shows as a punt returner. Has solid hands and typically makes the right decision to fair catch, but does not have breakaway speed and will dance or move east-west instead of heading straight upfield.
Run Support: Takes run support very seriously, seeking out contact. Chops down runs to his side when able, evades most receivers blocks with quickness and quick hands -- though NFL receivers will have regular success holding him up on the outside because of his slight build.
Tackling: Aggressive hitter in the secondary who plays without regard to his own safety. Best when coming downhill and cutting down ballcarriers with a low shoulder. Constantly looking to strip the football from ballcarriers while other defenders are making the tackle. Man-up tackling is a challenge for him, however, when facing a strong runner who lowers his pads or larger receivers with the length to stiff-arm him. Plays on coverage units. Brought on edge blitzes regularly when front four isn't getting there, uses quickness and big hits to create turnovers from the blind side.
Intangibles: Left after junior season with 40 career starts. Quiet, hard-working player who consistently gets praise from coaches and teammates for his work ethic and attitude. Puts in time in the film room, knows his opponents and defensive scheme inside and out. No worries about on-field effort, brings tenacious attitude on every play.