Stephon Gilmore took his play to another level in 2019, and opposing teams remain impressed with the New England Patriots star. Gilmore was named the No. 1 cornerback in the NFL in a poll of 50 league personnel, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.
One AFC executive said the player's athleticism is "beyond rare," while a defensive coach expects more big things from the 29-year-old.
"What's amazing is he was still sort of raw out of college and switched to defensive back late in his football development, but he's got such a good blend of instincts, size and toughness," the coach said. "He'll have a window of a few more years where he'll be premier."
A first-round pick in 2012, Gilmore was a quality player for five years with the Buffalo Bills, earning one Pro Bowl berth in 2016. He has been even better over the past three seasons with the Patriots, earning first-team All-Pro honors in each of the last two years.
The cornerback was especially impressive in 2019 with six interceptions, returning two for touchdowns, and a league-high 20 passes defended on his way to being named the Defensive Player of the Year.
Gilmore was targeted 101 times last season but allowed completions on just 50.5 percent of passes and zero touchdowns, resulting in a 44.1 quarterback rating against, per Pro Football Reference.
It's why not a single voter listed the veteran lower than third in the cornerback rankings.
Those producing the Madden ratings agreed, adding Gilmore to the 99 Club as the top player at his position:
With his athleticism and skill set, he doesn't appear likely to fall off any time soon.