Cowboys Draft Profiles: Stephon Gilmore

Even though the Cowboys made their big splash of the offseason in Brandon Carr, they may not be done upgrading the secondary. This is a point I will hammer home leading up until the draft. Do not rule out the high selection of a cornerback just because the team got a new Carr. The passing game keeps evolving and you have to be able to stop it to win games. It just makes sense for the team to continue stockpiling cornerbacks because of the problems the team has had against the pass in recent history.

During the draft season, we see expert and amateur analysis of draft prospects. The recent debate is Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, versus South Carolina cornerback Stephon Gilmore. I really don't believe the two are very far apart. Gilmore has better overall speed and ball skills, but Kirkpatrick has the size and physicality. Both have the ability to play free safety, and that is very intriguing.

Gilmore is a player that has been on my radar for a long time now. He stands out on tape, and has the production and athleticism to back it up. He is a dark-horse candidate for the 14th overall selection, but we should still consider him. The Cowboys didn't send scouts to multiple South Carolina games to just hang out, they were taking a look at someone on the Gamecocks roster.

Bio

  • 21 years old
  • 6-0, 190
  • Hometown: Rock Hill, South Carolina
  • Junior
  • South Carolina
  • Started all 40 games in three seasons
  • All SEC first-team
  • Freshman All-American

Gilmore is an experienced cornerback from the best conference in college football. The SEC conference consistently produces some of the best football players, and he is another product to come out prepared for the NFL level. People may not be a big fan of Steve Spurrier's, but one thing the guy knows how to recruit. He brings in some of the best players in the nation.

Ever since he stepped on the field as a freshman, Gilmore was ready to produce. He was an instant success and finished the season with 56 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 8 pass breakups and 1 interception. It isn't easy for a freshman cornerback to come in and simply play, but this kid started every game. Gilmore wasn't only dangerous as a cornerback, but he began to flash his punt returning ability

In his sophomore season, his draft stock began to rise. He finished the season with 79 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 3 sacks and 3 interceptions. The awards began to pileup for him as well. Being named to the All-SEC team and All-American lists earned him national recognition, and officially put his name on the map as one of the nation's best cornerbacks.

During his junior season he became a vocal leader on a good South Carolina defense. He worked hard off the field and in the film room. Part of the reason I became very intrigued by him was his character. Gilmore is the complete package as a football player, but his character makes him even more appealing. He finished the season with 46 tackles and 4 interceptions.

He proved a lot during his three-year career at South Carolina and decided to enter the 2012 NFL Draft. It was a great decision because there wasn't much more he could do at the college level to increase his draft stock. Going back and risking an injury could have cost him serious money, so I do not blame him for coming out early.

Combine Results

  • 4.40 40 yard dash
  • 36 inch vertical
  • 3.94 20 yard shuttle

Positives

  • Experienced
  • Smart player with leadership qualities
  • Great athlete
  • Great speed and quickness
  • Good size
  • Physical tackler
  • Good footwork and balance for a taller cornerback
  • Great in press coverage at the line of scrimmage
  • Good ball skills
  • Versatile player who can possibly make the transition to free safety

Negatives

  • Needs to add more weight to his frame and bulk up
  • He has the natural instincts to play in zone coverage, but still needs to improve in that area
  • Must improve his technique instead of relying on his athleticism
  • He is an aggressive player, but needs to temper that down in the NFL

Conclusion

Gilmore is a real option for the Cowboys if they trade down from the 14th overall pick. Even though he is a long shot for the 14th pick, we should still get to know him. This draft is loaded with cornerback talent, and Gilmore is one of the best. The Cowboys scouts scouted South Carolina throughout the season, but I don't know who they were taking a look at while they were there. It wouldn't surprise me if Melvin Ingram and Gilmore were the two players the scouts were taking a closer look at.

Drafting another cornerback doesn't look like a luxury pick anymore. Mike Jenkins is going to be a free agent in 2013, and Orlando Scandrick still has to live up to his contract extension he received last August. It may be wise to let defensive coordinator Rob Ryan continue the overhaul of the secondary through the draft. Wouldn't we all sleep a lot better at night knowing we have a stable of cover cornerbacks? I know I would sleep like a baby knowing we can cover up to three or four receiving options during a game.

If the idea of taking another cornerback that high doesn't fancy you, consider that Gilmore has the skills needed to make a position change to free safety. It isn't easy to make a position change, we saw that happen with Alan Ball, but this isn't the same type of player. Gilmore is an impressive player with the game tape and upside that would be a great pick for the Cowboys that could be their free safety of the future.

Unlike last year, it really isn't clear who the Cowboys will take with their first-round draft pick. I wish I could tell you who it was going to be, but having all of these options are making for one interesting offseason leading up until the draft.

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