Teams hoping to land a cornerback in the latter third of the first round at the 2012 NFL draft will want to consider South Carolina's Stephon Gilmore.
Gilmore was a borderline first-round prospect leading up to the combine, but he opened a lot of eyes with his performance in on-field drills at Lucas Oil Stadium. If he wasn't on your radar before, he should be now.
Per NFL.com, Gilmore ran the 40-yard dash in 4.40 seconds, which ranked third among his fellow corners. He also did the 20-yard shuttle in 3.94 seconds, second-best among fellow corners.
It would be one thing if Gilmore just showed above-average athleticism, but the word from Wes Bunting of the National Football Post is that Gilmore looked good in corner drills, too.
Via Yahoo! Sports:
Another top tier corner who had a strong day was South Carolina’s Stephon Gilmore. The 6-1, 190-pound defensive back posted a 40 time of 4.37, showcased good range in the deep half and tracked the football well. He looks like an ideal zone type corner who can hit, range and track the football out of his breaks.
Gilmore's ability to hit is something that he takes pride in. He spoke at the combine over the weekend, and he accused cornerbacks of being generally afraid to hit somebody.
“I think most corners don't like to tackle,” Gilmore said, per CBSSports.com. “I like to tackle a lot. I (also) like to make plays on the ball.”
Talk like this isn't worth much, but Gilmore proved at South Carolina that he's not exaggerating. He was one of the more aggressive corners in the SEC and he had a knack for making plays. He also proved useful on special teams.
With guys like Morris Claiborne, Janoris Jenkins and Dre Kirkpatrick also generating positive buzz at the combine, it would be a stretch to suggest that Gilmore shot himself up into early or mid first-round territory with his performance at the combine. But rest assured, he definitely went from being a borderline first-rounder to a solid late-round option.
That's my personal assessment and that's SI.com's Tony Pauline's assessment. He was also impressed with Gilmore and he likes him as a late first-round option.
There are plenty of teams in the back end of the first round that should be interested in a corner like Gilmore. The New England Patriots definitely need help in their secondary, the Denver Broncos may want to consider an heir apparent for Champ Bailey, the Detroit Lions may want to add another corner to help themselves compete with the Green Bay Packers and the the Houston Texans and San Francisco 49ers could both use cornerback depth.
So there are a lot of potential homes for Gilmore, which makes it all the more likely that he will end up going in the first round on draft day.
As well he should. He earned that right at the combine.