As the Buffalo Bills transition into a new defensive scheme under coordinator Mike Pettine, one of the most important players on the team is now second-year cornerback Stephon Gilmore. Asked to anchor the team's cornerback position from the day he walked into team facilities, Gilmore struggled with penalties as a rookie, but otherwise was a steady performer.
Now, in a defense that will feature more man coverage, Gilmore is the alpha dog at a position that is younger and has more question marks than it did a year ago. The pressure is on Gilmore to become a bona fide No. 1 corner, and GM Doug Whaley believes he's on his way.
"If you look at Gilmore and you've been around the practices this spring, he's made a leap from year one to year two," Whaley told BuffaloBills.com. "And that's very encouraging. Any time you see a rookie going into the second year not stop into that sophomore slump, but make a transition and improve, that's always a positive."
Whaley also indicated in the interview that Leodis McKelvin has a lock on the No. 2 job opposite Gilmore, and that players like Ron Brooks and Justin Rogers will be competing for nickel duties, also mentioning undrafted free agent Nickell Robey by name.