July 26, 2012; Pittsford, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore (27) in action during training camp practice at St. John Fisher College. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-US PRESSWIRE
Only four training camp practices into his NFL career, Buffalo Bills rookie cornerback Stephon Gilmore is already drawing the praise of not just reporters on the scene, but his teammates and coaches, as well.
"The Bills appear to have scored big by drafting cornerback Stephon Gilmore," writes ESPN's John Clayton after taking in a Bills training camp practice. "He's a big, physical player who can challenge every throw from man coverage."
"I don't know how to say it, but he's up there with some of the DBs in the league who've been playing for a couple of years, and he hasn't even played one play," receiver Stevie Johnson told reporters. "Really, I don't want to speak too highly, but it's hard to not speak highly of somebody that can play as well as he has from rookie minicamp all the way up until now."
Perhaps the strongest praise for Gilmore to arise at this point comes from his head coach, Chan Gailey.
"The thing about Stephon I've found is he is very consistent," said Gailey. "There is no up and down in the guy. What you see every day is what you get every day. And that has been a pleasant surprise."
When Gilmore was drafted No. 10 overall in the 2012 NFL Draft, there was some question as to whether or not he would even start, as the Bills - while not exactly loaded at cornerback - had some veteran players on the depth chart. Since then, Drayton Florence was released, Terrence McGee still isn't participating in team drills coming off of patella tendon surgery, and second-year pro Aaron Williams has reportedly had a rough start to camp.
That leaves Gilmore - who, at age 21 is the youngest player on the roster (he'll turn 22 on September 19) - as the Bills' unquestioned top cornerback entering the season. Circumstances may change, wherein McGee gets healthy and starts consistently covering an opponents' top receiving threat; until that happens, Bills fans should now fully expect Gilmore to draw those assignments.