NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: South Carolina CB Stephon Gilmore
|03.23.12 at 4:04 pm ET|
WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2012 NFL draft. Here is one is a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’s time for the Patriots to make a selection.
School: South Carolina
Weight: 190 pounds
Achievements: Coaches All-SEC first team (2010), AP All-American third team (2010), Phil Steele Freshman All-American (2009)
What he brings: One of the draft’s second-tier cornerback prospects, Gilmore doesn’t have the numbers or pedigree of LSU’s Morris Claiborne or Alabama’s Dre Kirkpatrick, but his physical attributes and athleticism jump off the page. Standing a hair above 6 feet tall, Gilmore features prototypical size for the cornerback position, while maintaining elite speed and excelling in stopping the run. While the speed is a plus, Gilmore’s size, ability to match up with tall wideouts and play strong in the running game will please many Patriots fans still haunted by images of Darius Butler and Terrence Wheatley.
At South Carolina, Gilmore excelled when he was placed in press alignment against a receiver, particularly in man coverage, when he could use his size and aggressiveness to his advantage. However, Gilmore’s skills playing off a receiver and in zone coverage are spotty and his ball skills have been called into question. He projects to be a poor man’s Nnamdi Asomugha, where he could excel in a system just asks him to line up outside on a receiver but could struggle in zone systems early on.
Gilmore is also a talented ball carrier, seeing some duty at punt returner and quarterback in South Carolina’s wildcat package.
Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 1-2
Notes: Gilmore’s time of 4.40 seconds in the 40-yard dash ranked third among cornerbacks at the scouting combine. He also performed well in the 3-cone drill that is so coveted by Bill Belichick and his scouting staff with a time of 6.61 seconds, fourth best among cornerbacks.
In his most recent mock draft, Mel Kiper Jr. had Gilmore going No. 23 overall to the Lions. However, other draft outlets gave Gilmore rated as low as eighth among cornerback prospects in the draft, showing the clustering of talent at the position once experts move past the top tier of Claiborne and Kirkpatrick.
Video: Here’s a highlight package showing Gilmore’s strengths and weaknesses over his career at South Carolina.