2012 NFL Draft: Buffalo Bills’ First Round Grade
First Round Pick (10): Stephon Gilmore (CB-South Carolina)
Analysis: The selection of Stephon Gilmore tenth overall has already drawn vast criticism around the web, with many draft critics feeling that the team should have gone with a player who can start from week one. However, the Buffalo Bills were merely following a successful trend around the NFL of having a tall, fast corner on the outside that is built more like the bigger safeties in the league. Gilmore stands at a staggering 6’0½” and as the pride of Steve Spurrier’s hard-hitting South Carolina defense, Gilmore certainly knows how to throw his 190-pound frame around. The corner is extremely physical on the outside, and can take down any running back in the NFL in the open field. His size will also be used near the line of scrimmage often, as the Bills plan on using him to jam receivers at the line, a defensive art that has been completely underutilized over the last ten years. Gilmore’s size/speed combo will help him get on the field right away, if not in as a nickel cornerback spot, at least as a punishing special teamer.
The selection of Gilmore is also an insurance pick for the organization, as they are likely to lose both of their starting cornerbacks, Drayton Florence and Terrence McGee, at the end of the 2012 season. Not to mention the fact that McGee has missed 22 games in the last three years due to numerous injuries, while only recording one interception and zero sacks in that time. The team will likely need Gilmore to start at some point this season with the team’s age at the position, so if he can make a quick transition into the pros, then he could see some serious playing time.
Gilmore lead the Gamecocks’ defensive unit throughout his career and could quickly become the new leader of Buffalo’s secondary in a year or two. However, there are a couple of things he must work on. He will need to polish his coverage skills and his backpedal is still a little staggered. These problems are not overly concerning, but are things that will have to be addressed before the Bills make a spot for him on the wall of fame next Bruce Smith and Jim Kelly.
The Bills have always been known for reaching in drafts to address a position of need, but this year they finally took the best player on the board and it was Gilmore. Gilmore, because of his physical play, has the potential to be a shutdown corner at the next level very soon. The Bills are confident he will anchor the Buffalo secondary for a while and develop into a nice cornerback tandem with Aaron Williams, the team’s 2011 second round pick out of Texas. In this league you can never have enough corners, and with all the off-season additions to their front seven, Buffalo can afford to add depth to their secondary in the first round.