Colts CB Stephon Gilmore Puts NFL on Notice With Latest Comments

Stephon Gilmore

Getty Indianapolis Colts cornerback Stephon Gilmore is aiming to return to his former All-Pro status.

To say cornerback is a young man’s position is putting it mildly. No cornerback at least 30 years old has made first-team All Pro since Aqib Talib did it at 30 in 2016.

With that recent history in mind, Indianapolis Colts cornerback Stephon Gilmore bidding for his third appearance on first-team All Pro appears to be a long shot. Gilmore will turn 32 two weeks into the 2022 season (on September 19).

But Gilmore doesn’t view himself as a long shot All-Pro possibility. He delivered a clear message to NFL staff writer Zak Keefer of The Athletic.

That message? He is aiming to be the best at his position again.

“I’ve been doing this a long time, so I know what it takes to get back to that [being an All-Pro],” Gilmore told Keefer. “I think I can. There aren’t many guys out there who can do what I do.”

The contract the Colts signed Gilmore to suggests they think he can be great again too. Indianapolis inked Gilmore to a 2-year, $20 million contract this offseason. In the deal, $14 million is guaranteed.

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Gilmore Getting Better With Age

Gilmore probably has the best shot of any cornerback in recent memory to break the trend of cornerbacks under 30 earning all the first-team All-Pro bids. As he stated, Gilmore has been in the league a long time, but he’s been getting better with age.

The Buffalo Bills drafted Gilmore at No. 10 overall in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft. While he was a good player his first few years, he didn’t make his first Pro Bowl until his fifth season. Gilmore made his first All-Pro team with the New England Patriots in 2018 — his seventh NFL season.

Then in 2019, Gilmore was not only the best cornerback in the league, he won the Defensive Player of the Year award. He led the NFL with 6 interceptions and 20 pass defenses in 2019.

The last two seasons have been more difficult for the veteran cornerback. In 2020, he missed multiple games because of COVID-19 and a torn quad. Gilmore began last season on the PUP list after he missed training camp due to a contract dispute. The Patriots then traded Gilmore to the Carolina Panthers on October 6.

Gilmore hasn’t played more than 11 games in either of the last two seasons.

But in his limited playing time last year, he did perform well. According to the Pro Football Focus player grades, Gilmore was the eighth-best cornerback in coverage during 2021. He was also one of just three cornerbacks placed in man-to-man coverage on more than 40% of his snaps.

For Gilmore this season, it’s about playing that well over an entire season. He played a career-low 305 snaps last season, starting just 3 games.

That’s less than one-third of the snaps he played during his two All-Pro seasons. In 2022, Gilmore should line up for closer to 1,000 snaps if all goes according to plan for the Colts.

Gilmore Shining During Training Camp

Gilmore hasn’t wasted any time. He’s already begun proving his doubters wrong with an excellent training camp.

On August 7, ESPN’s Stephen Holder tweeted, “Colts CB Stephon Gilmore is absolutely killing this training camp.” Colts reporter Nate Atkins added on Twitter that August 7 was just another day where Gilmore was Indianapolis’ best player.

Gilmore was one of two big acquisitions the Colts made for their defense this offseason. Indianapolis also traded for defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, who has posted at least 8.0 sacks in all six of his NFL seasons.

Together, the Colts hope Gilmore and Ngakoue can combine to produce more pressure on the pocket. Indianapolis finished tied for 25th in sacks last season with 33.

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