Stephon Gilmore – Belichick’s big spend at cornerback, who spent the first part of his season being scrutinised by fans.
However, Gilmore eventually found his rhythm and the scrutinising fans focussed on a new target; Malcolm Butler’s Super Bowl benching. With Butler moving on to Tennessee, Gilmore is now the top cornerback in New England and will need to rise to the challenge whilst training rookie Duke Dawson.
Starting Corner is a new role for Gilmore, however, he seems to be feeling good about the new position, and is excited about his next year in New England.
“Yeah, any time you go through something a second time, it’s always better,” Gilmore said, via the Boston Herald. “But, at the end of the day, you still have to go out there and do your job and compete at a high level every year. That’s what it’s about. Obviously, I feel more comfortable being around the guys, being around my teammates. I’m looking forward to it.”
Gilmore finished his 2017 season with 50 tackles, and 2 interceptions, however, was far more active on defence that statistics show (fans will remember his clutch end-game against the Jaguars in the AFC title game).
The Patriots traded for Jason McCourty and drafted two corners to go with Gilmore, Jonathan Jones and Eric Rowe. With five active corners (so far) it is fair to say that a fair amount of shuffling is in order before the new season starts. Although it is never easy to predict how the Patriots may choose to align their secondary, it seems likely that Gilmore will be in the centre of whatever they do and this could potentially be the year that the talented corner reaches his full potential.