Nov 5, 2011; Fayetteville, AR, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks cornerback Stephon Gilmore (5) during the game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Arkansas defeated South Carolina 44-28. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-US PRESSWIRE

Chicago Bears Draft Prospect Watch: CB Stephon Gilmore


Now that the 2012 NFL schedule is out, we’re in a full sprint to the NFL draft.  We’ll spend the next week+ focusing on the draft.  I have to give credit to my guy DeCon for turning me on to the latest prospect cornerback Stephon Gilmore out of South Carolina.

I had been eying up defensive ends and offensive linemen, but the Bears definitely still have a need at cornerback and Gilmore would be an immediate contributor to boost the defense, inject some much needed youth in the secondary and get a player that can play opposite Peanut Tillman and eventually succeed him.

Check out this scouting report on Gilmore from CBS Sports:

Man Coverage: Plays mostly in press-bail or off-coverage. Flashes a tough, aggressive punch after the snap in rare press coverage occasions, but may not have the strength to knock NFL receivers off their routes. Not elite transitioning forward from backpedal, will take an extra step or loop a bit when closing on slants. Lacks elite recovery and straight-line speed to stay with faster wideouts down the field if beaten on a double move or losing a step off the line.

Zone Coverage: Fits best in a zone system like he currently plays. Knows his, and others’, assignments on every play. Comes out initial read quickly to stop the underneath route dead. Quick feet in off coverage to adjust to inside routes, even when playing outside technique. Explodes to plays in front of him, cutting down his target or wrapping up if able to line up the receiver. Forces turnovers and dropped passes with his ability to arrive strong at the receiver with the ball.

Ball Skills: Makes quarterbacks pay for poor throws with centerfielder-like instincts and hands. Uses his height in full advantage on jump balls, make difficult catches with his hands extended away from his frame. Excellent elusiveness after the catch that shows as a punt returner. Has solid hands and typically makes the right decision to fair catch, but does not have breakaway speed and will dance or move east-west instead of heading straight upfield.

Run Support: Takes run support very seriously, seeking out contact. Chops down runs to his side when able, evades most receivers blocks with quickness and quick hands — though NFL receivers will have regular success holding him up on the outside because of his slight build.

Tackling: Aggressive hitter in the secondary who plays without regard to his own safety. Best when coming downhill and cutting down ballcarriers with a low shoulder. Constantly looking to strip the football from ballcarriers while other defenders are making the tackle. Man-up tackling is a challenge for him, however, when facing a strong runner who lowers his pads or larger receivers with the length to stiff-arm him. Plays on coverage units. Brought on edge blitzes regularly when front four isn’t getting there, uses quickness and big hits to create turnovers from the blind side.

Intangibles: Left after junior season with 40 career starts. Quiet, hard-working player who consistently gets praise from coaches and teammates for his work ethic and attitude. Puts in time in the film room, knows his opponents and defensive scheme inside and out. No worries about on-field effort, brings tenacious attitude on every play.

Some things jump off the page, especially when they talk about Gilmore’s ability in a zone scheme.  Hello?!?! Cover-2!  I also like Gilmore’s ability in run support.  That’s crucial for a Cover-2 corner.  His size (6’1″) and speed (4.4 40 yard dash) would allow him to compete with the big, speedy wide receivers throughout the league.

No Draft Watch would be complete without a flashy highlight video, so enjoy.

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