The projections for the Bills’ first pick had been all over the place. Before free agency, it was pass rushers. Then, a tackle like Riley Reiff or a No. 2 wideout like Michael Floyd.
As the draft neared, though, it became clear the Bills wanted to upgrade the back seven on defense. The Bills were in a good position at No. 10. Even with OLT Matt Kalil and S Mark Barron, two players connected to Buffalo, gone, the Bills could address a need with a very skilled player in South Carolina CB Stephon Gilmore.
Dave Wannstedt takes over the Bills’ defense and gets a corner in Gilmore who has the tools the new coordinator wants in his cover men — good size, athletic ability, scheme versatility. Gilmore also brings good character to Buffalo. He wasn’t the surefire corner that Morris Claiborne was, but Gilmore had been projected to go as high as No. 7 (though, as low as in the 20s).
Last season, the Bills’ pass defense dropped to 19th in the league. Terrence McGee is injury-prone, Drayton Florence was inconsistent and committed costly penalties in a loss to the Giants and Leodis McKelvin lost his starting job when 2011 second-rounder Aaron Williams returned from injury. And behind that group, there wasn’t a lot of depth.
With the pass rush fortified thanks to the additions of Mario Williams and Mark Anderson, it was time to upgrade the secondary. And don’t forget — the Bills have a wealth of picks to go get another tackle, receiver, quarterback and inside linebacker.
Gilmore could easily challenge to start next season. The Bills really like Williams, but clearly, the three veterans (McGee, Florence and McKelvin) all had moments of falling out of favor for a variety of reasons. GM Buddy Nix has discussed corner as a position you address every year and wanted more depth at corner, and that means a lot in the 2012 version of the NFL, especially playing the Patriots’ offense twice a year.
It's a logjam at corner, but that's certainly not a bad thing for Wannstedt, who will have two young, talented cover men to work with in Williams and now Gilmore.
From PFW’s Nolan Nawrocki’s scouting report, here is something Bills fans should like about Gilmore: “Supports the run willingly and is a physical tackler. Effective blitzer.” It’s important to have corners who can support the run in the Bills’ defense, and Gilmore’s physicality and blitzing ability indicate that he has the potential to be a playmaking corner.
Follow Kevin Fishbain on Twitter