Bills sign top pick CB Gilmore to 4-year deal

Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore is ready to compete for a

starting job, after the first-round draft pick signed a four-year

contract worth about $12 million on Thursday.

The deal was announced by the team, and included Buffalo CEO

Russ Brandon posting a photo on his Twitter account of Gilmore

signing his contract.

”It’s official,” Brandon wrote. ”Nice way to start the

morning.”

Listed at 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, Gilmore was drafted 10th

overall after a three-year career at South Carolina, where he

started all 40 games and was a two-time All-Southeastern Conference

selection. The contract includes an option for fifth year.

The Bills have already opened room for Gilmore to take over

after they released veteran starter Drayton Florence last week. And

the signing came days after Gilmore got his first taste of the NFL

in taking part in the Bills three-day rookie minicamp last

weekend.

In four practices, Gilmore had several pass break ups and at

least one interception while showing off his coverage skills. He

was both fast on his feet in covering receivers deep, and also

showed he’s capable of bumping opponents coming off the line of

scrimmage.

After the minicamp, Gilmore expected to have the contract

completed by the end of this week, and is now happy to get it out

of the way.

”I wasn’t going to let it be a distraction. I wasn’t really

worried about it,” Gilmore said in a statement released by the

team. ”I knew it was going to come through. Now I can just focus

on football and do what I want to do.”

Gilmore was the second cornerback selected in the draft, behind

LSU’s Morris Claiborne, who was picked sixth by Dallas.

The next step for Gilmore comes on May 29, when he will get an

opportunity to line up against veteran receivers once the Bills

open a monthlong series of minicamps.

”Oh yeah, I’m ready to see what the vets have going on,”

Gilmore said last weekend. ”I’m going to play with confidence, and

I’m going to still do what I know, and go from there.”

Gilmore made a good first impression on coach Chan Gailey, who

noted both the player’s athleticism and confident approach.

Gilmore becomes the seventh of Buffalo’s nine draft picks to

sign with the team. The only players left unsigned are Buffalo’s

second- and third-round picks, offensive tackle Cordy Glenn and

receiver T.J. Graham.

Gilmore is the latest addition to a defense that’s been rebuilt

this offseason, and to be overseen by Dave Wannstedt, who takes

over as coordinator after George Edwards was fired in January. The

Bills have already addressed improving their pass rush in free

agency, when they signed defensive ends Mario Williams and Mark

Anderson in March.

The moves were made in a bid to improve a defense that allowed a

franchise-worst 5,938 yards last season. Buffalo is coming off a

6-10 finish to miss the playoffs for a 12th straight year.