Earlier this week on NFL.com, Chris Wesseling called cornerback Stephon Gilmore a future Pro Bowler. As we lead up to the 2013 NFL Draft, he made a list of five players from last year's draft who would get the nod in their sophomore season, and Gilmore was the first of five names. That got us thinking: what Buffalo Bills could make their first trip to Honolulu following the 2013 season? Here are the top prospects.
The first round pick in 2011 came in with high expectations. In 2012, he underachieved following the loss of his brother after a pretty solid rookie campaign. He could be set to benefit from new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine's system, which will allow him some more freedom to be aggressive while established Pro Bowlers Kyle Williams and Mario Williams draw extra attention.
Gilmore was Buffalo's first-round pick in the 2012 selection meeting. While he had his rookie mistakes, he also held Larry Fitzgerald in check. If he can continue to improve his consistency, his draft status will get him into the national conversation. With Pettine installing an attacking defense, Gilmore should have more chances to make plays on the ball - but also more opportunities to get burned.
Part of a solid offensive line in 2012, Glenn could make the Pro Bowl if he can stay healthy. The AFC's squad at tackle was wide open a year ago. With Nathaniel Hackett's new system, the Bills won't be giving up many sacks. Pro Bowl running back C.J. Spiller can cover up some warts, too.
Certainly, Johnson's case for Pro Bowl consideration is overdue. He has the most to lose from last year's squad in this conversation. His rapport with Ryan Fitzpatrick was unquestioned. It's unclear how he'll be utilized by the new offense and quarterback. His reputation around the league should get him enough of the popularity vote to at least be in consideration, though.
Nobody thinks McKelvin has a shot at making the Pro Bowl at cornerback - but as a returner, he was in the conversation all season long in 2012. Ultimately, Jacoby Jones and Josh Cribbs got the nod, but McKelvin has the skills to remain in the conversation.
Buffalo's first-round pick in 2009 is well-respected around the NFL. His injury history has prohibited him from being in the conversation during most of his four seasons, and he has the steepest competition to overcome, too. With Nick Mangold and others ahead of him in public perception, the Bills will have to have a pretty good record to get Wood's name into the mix.