Stephon Gilmore is the best cornerback in the NFL today, and a big reason why the New England Patriots’ defense is among the game’s elite units. But what is it that makes him such a good player and helped him not just blanket opposing receivers on a week-to-week basis, but also win the league’s Defensive Player of the Year award in 2019? To answer that question, the 29-year-old recently sat down with NFL Films’ Brian Baldinger.
Gilmore and the former offensive linemen went over some of last season’s tape to find the little things the cornerback does in order to shut down opposing wide receivers. From recognizing patterns and reading his assignments, to studying players’ strengths and weaknesses, to knowing his role within the Patriots’ defense and trusting his teammates in the secondary, Gilmore does it all on as high a level as any defensive back in football.
“It takes a lot of hard work during training camp and during the season to get better and better every game, because nobody is playing his best football in Week 1. You get better and learn about yourself, learn about your teammates. You take it all in and just try to improve your game each and every week,” Gilmore said during the 14-minute segment, also pointing out that he does plenty of film study on the pass catchers he will face. “There’s probably not one route that I haven’t seen.”
Entering the 2020 season, the Patriots will once again rely on Gilmore to serve as a true shutdown cornerback on the outside just like he did ever since arriving in New England as a free agent three years ago. With the majority of the team’s top defensive backs returning for another year, and the team investing considerable resources in its safety position during the offseason, the foundation for another successful campaign out of the former first-round draft pick seems to be in place once again.