Scouting Report: South Carolina Cornerback Stephon Gilmore

Editor's note: Our own Joe Goodberry has been kind enough to write his own scouting reports on some of the players that the Bengals may be interested in, players he likes in the positions the team needs and players that have been selected by them in mock drafts. We will be posting these periodically through the next few weeks. Enjoy.

Stephon Gilmore

CB - PR

South Carolina

Height: 6'0"

Weight: 190 lbs.

Arms: 31"

40-yard: 4.40

10-yard: 1.50

Bench Reps: 15

Vertical: 31"

Broad Jump: 10'3"

Junior

Strengths

Good build; strong and nice length. Displayed very good speed at the combine and in-games when he had to close onto the ball carrier. Shows good reactions and the ability to defend anything in front of him. Gilmore is very aggressive and isn't afraid of contact; looks to make the big hit any chance he gets. Instinctive blitzer; times it well and fights through blockers. Instinctive ball-skills; can accurately judge balls in-flight and make the interception/knock down. Gilmore looked to be technically improved in almost every area during combine position drills; shows he's been training and can learn and practice the correct techniques. Also a return man.

Weaknesses

Considerably raw; Gilmore played QB before playing full-time CB. Gets high in back pedal; pops up when turning and transitioning; gets off-balanced at times and takes extra steps. Played mostly off-zone with a few press-man opportunities a game; needs to use his hands better in press. Not the surest tackler; all shoulders and doesn't always wrap-up. Can let the ball get into his body and drops easy interceptions as a result. Sometimes loses sight of the ball and WR and panics.

Year

Games

Tackles

Sacks

TFL

FF

FR

Pass Def

INT

2009

13

56

3

6

2

2

8

1

2010

14

79

3

6

1

1

2

3

2011

12

41

1

2

1

1

7

3

Final Analysis

Stephon Gilmore has every physical attribute you look for in a number one - shutdown type. He needs more practice experience in different coverages and general coaching. He shows the zone understanding already and that's a plus, now he needs to get more comfortable in different man-coverage concepts. He'll add physicality and scheme diversity to whatever team drafts him. I see him as an eventual top-15 CB in the NFL and should bee a couple Pro Bowls. Some teams may project him as an eventual safety.

Player Comparison: Dunta Robinson
Projected Pick: 15-30
Current Ranking: #16 Overall - #3 CB

Video Review

1st Play - 0:09 - This looks to be a press-man situation vs. Julio Jones. You can see Gilmore start backing out pre-snap. He's nervous about the deep ball already. 5-yards into his backpedal, Gilmore is almost completely upright and about to bail on the route and run up-field. If you pause it at 0:11, you can see Gilmore almost standing up while Julio Jones is very low and easily stops his route and catches a quick completion. At 0:14, instead of attacking the ball-carrier, Gilmore waits for Julio and pays the price with a stiff arm to the face. Gilmore responds by ripping off his helmet a few yards out of bounds.

2nd Play - 0:27 - At the beginning of the snap, Gilmore has his eyes in the backfield towards the QB; a key that it's zone. At the snap, Gilmore turns towards the QB and runs up-field; paying no attention to the WR. If you pause it at 0:40, you can see Maze sitting down and starting to break off his route towards the sideline. Once Gilmore recognizes the pass is coming his way, he slips trying to plant his back foot and loses any chance to make a play on the ball. This is a defensive coverage you will see a lot from South Carolina. They want to make college QBs beat them by making the hardest throw in the game. Deep throws towards the sideline. The next play in the video is the same concept.

4th Play - 0:57 - This is our first opportunity to see Gilmore in man-coverage. He does a good job staying low and backpedaling quickly at the start. Julio Jones gains some separation on the route but drops the pass and Gilmore is right there to knock him down. Even if the ball was caught, Gilmore probably would've limited the yardage gained.

5th Play - 1:06 - This is another on of those off-zones where Gilmore is looking into the backfield. Alabama runs a high-low combination to the right side. Gilmore notices at the 1:08 mark because he's keying on the QB. You can see how quickly Gilmore plants and explodes towards the intended receiver. He meets the receiver as he catches the ball and lays a solid hit.

6th Play - 1:14 - This is the first play where we can see Gilmore blitz. He goes up against Trent Richardson who is one of the best blocking RBs I've seen. Granted, this was 2010 and Richardson is much better in pass pro now. You can see Gilmore looks much quicker than Richardson does a good job of setting up the blocker, letting T-Rich lunge and stepping around him before running down the QB from behind for the sack.

The next play is another off-zone where Gilmore has no shot. He comes up and makes the stop. The following play is another blitz by Gilmore where he displays his instincts and loops around for the sack.

9th Play - Another zone play as you see Gilmore bailing pre-snap. Julio Jones does a good job of getting on top of Gilmore and giving him a jab-step before cutting towards the sideline. Pause it at 2:29 and you can see Gilmore off-balance and he turns the opposite way and loses the ball. He has not shot. He could've done better had he stayed low and turned towards the inside. Even with that, it's hard to defend against these passes, but it's also hard for college QBs to make these throws all day.

The next play shows Gilmore's added ability as a return man.

Obviously the game doesn't look so good for Gilmore. He gave up some easy catches because he was in zone coverage during most of these plays. Now, these videos only show you the balls thrown at him. That's only 6-balls and most were against Julio Jones. The other 45 plays, Gilmore had good coverage, applied pressure when blitzing and was aggressive against the run. Overall, it was a very solid game for Gilmore. I wanted to show this game because I've seen some people ask ‘What's so special about him? He was letting up easy catches and getting faked until he fell.' So I wanted to take you through the process of each play. I'm not exclusively blaming the defensive system, but it didn't help the sophomore CB in this game. This shows that Gilmore's flaws are coachable and his situation change should only help him. When you hear that he is a zone CB, it's because that's when you notice him the most. The rest of his snaps(not shown) were good coverage and half of those were man-to-man.

Skills Breakdown (1-5)

Size

1

Great Height and length to go with good bulk.

Speed

2

Ran a 4.40 but plays like a 4.45

Athleticism

2

Good hips and feet for CB also a blitzer, tackler, return man, wildcat QB

Man Coverage

2

Has every tool you look for in a man CB, needs refinement and experience

Zone Coverage

2

Has a great deal of experience in Zone, but wasn't his strongest point.

Vs Run

1

Very aggressive, fights through or controls blockers, willing tackler

Experience

2

Came out early (Jr.), played 30+ games, relatively new to CB

Ball Skills

2

Good hands but concentration lapses and sometimes loses track in-air

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