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Gilmore happy to be in football town

Buffalo Bills first-round draft choice Stephon Gilmore was introduced today in Orchard Park and projected an all-business attitude toward his new career as a professional football player.

"I like being physical," said Gilmore, the 6-foot, 190-pound cornerback from South Carolina. "I think that’s the strongest part of my game. I like the physical part, the hard-nosed part of playing football. I just love playing the game. I’ve been playing it since I was 7 years old and I enjoy playing it."

Gilmore said that attitude is pervasive in his hometown of Rock Hill, S.C.

"In South Carolina, you’re either a Clemson fan or a South Carolina fan," Gilmore said. "So we breathe football down there. Hard-nosed football. That’s all we know. So luckily I got drafted to a football town. I’m happy to be here."

Gilmore, the 10th overall pick on Thursday, worked hard in the classroom as well as on the field. He made the Southeastern Conference academic honor roll numerous times. He graduated high school a half a year early and was able to start classes at South Carolina in January of 2009. He carried a 3.22 grade-point average at South Carolina as a sport and entertainment management major, and he's just two semesters away from graduating, even though he has left college a year and a half early.

The Bills had Gilmore into town for a visit before the draft. He was one of their 30 allowed prospect visits in the month leading up to the selection process. He said he figured Buffalo was a possible destiantion.

"I wasn’t surprised," said Gilmore. "I knew they were in the hunt of picking me, and I’m happy they chose me and I’m happy to be part of this organization, and I’m just ready to play some football now."

The Bills have had two other draft picks from Rock Hill, S.C. Cornerback Jeff Burris, the No. 1 pick in 1994, was from the city. So was safety Ko Simpson, a fourth-round pick in 2006. Rock Hill also produced NFL great defensive back Donnie Shell, who starred for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1970s. Shell went to South Carolina State, and he's in the College Football Hall of Fame. Rock Hill is a city of 66,000, fourth largest in the state, and it's located near the northern border, close to North Carolina.

---Mark Gaughan

The News' draft coverage continues with live video Webcast at 6 tonight

The News' deep staff of sports reporters returns tonight for a second night of in-depth coverage of the NFL draft, including:

* Tim Graham and Jay Skurski hosting the Webcast from One News Plaza.

* Analysis from Mark Gaughan, Jerry Sullivan, Bob DiCesare and Lauren Maraicher from One Bills Drive.

* Guest segments with former NFL player Seth Payne and South Carolina defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward.

* Live chat hosted by Mike Harrington and Bucky Gleason, who also participate in the video Webcast.

* Instant reaction to the Bills' second- and third-round selections.

Buffalo ranks 5th in draft TV rating

The Buffalo television market ranked fifth in the country in terms of percentage of households watching ESPN's coverage of the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday. ESPN had a rating of 7.3 in Buffalo, meaning 7.3 percent of all households with a television were tuned in (whether the TV in the house was turned on or not). The top ESPN market was Cleveland (10.7), followed by Birmingham, Ala. (10.5), Dayton, Ohio (8.3) and Columbus, Ohio (7.3). Of course more households in each market were watching the draft, as well, because it also was on NFL Network.

---Mark Gaughan

Gilmore pick boosts Bills pass defense

NFL Draft Football_Conn-2

The Buffalo Bills bolstered their pass defense Thursday night by taking South Carolina cornerback Stephon Gilmore with the 10th overall pick in the NFL Draft.

Gilmore is a big corner with speed. He’s 6-foot and 190 pounds, and he ran a 4.40-second time in the 40-yard dash.

Gilmore is considered a “clean" pick. He has an extensive track record of production on the field, with 40 college starts. He has been an honor-roll student at South Carolina.

Bills starters Terrence McGee and Drayton Florence are getting older. For the long term, the Bills could put Gilmore next to Aaron Williams, last year’s 34th overall pick, and they would have two physical corners to match up with the new wave of big wideouts in the NFL.

The Bills liked Southern California left tackle Matt Kalil but trading up for him didn’t turn out to be an option. Minnesota, holding the fourth pick, opted to not trade down and picked Kalil.

The Bills ranked 26th in the NFL on defense last year. They took a big step toward improving that figure by signing pass rushers Mario Williams and Mark Anderson in free agency.

Gilmore gets high marks for his work ethic and intangibles, as well as his consistency on the field.

“I think he’s a physical player," Bills national scout Darrell Moody said. “He’s got excellent size, and he has a good body of work. He’s been a three-year starter. I think he has played well against the run and played well against the pass, bump and Cover 2 and off-man and off-zone. I think he’s a complete player."

--Mark Gaughan

(Photo: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Bills first-round pick Stephon Gilmore pose for photos in Radio City Music Hall.)

Bills take Gilmore with #10 pick

NFL Draft Football_Conn-1

The Bills' first-round pick, No. 10 overall, was cornerback Stephon Gilmore from South Carolina. For more on the pick, go here.

The News' live coverage of NFL draft has begun

Go to the home page of BuffaloNews.com for wall-to-wall coverage of the NFL Draft right now. The live chat has begun and will continue throughout the first round. And beginning at 7:30 p.m., a live video webcast begins -- anchored by Jay Skurski and Tim Graham and featuring the lastest news and analysis from Mark Gaughan, Jerry Sullivan, Bob DiCesare and Lauren Mariacher at One Bills Drive. Throughout the night, chat with Mike Harrington and Bucky Gleason. All the bases are covered from now through the last pick on Saturday at BuffaloNews.com.

Bills have legit shot to move up

The Minnesota Vikings may not get a better offer than the one the Buffalo Bills appear ready to make for the No. 3 overall pick in the NFL Draft.

The Bills' interest in Southern California left tackle Matt Kalil is legitimate, a source tells The News. Charley Casserly of the NFL Network reported Wednesday night the Bills are willing to part with the No. 41 pick and flip first-round spots to move up.

The more one looks at the top of the draft board, the more it looks like the Bills have a good chance to move up, with the Vikings or someone else, to get Kalil.

Obviously there could be a team waiting in the wings to make a last-minute pitch for the third pick. But the prospects at the top of the draft board and the needs of the top six teams do not suggest the Vikings are going to create a bidding war for No. 3.

Quarterback is the most likely target of a team looking to move up into the top five. Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill is the No. 3 QB in the draft. But none of the top six, based on all the reports out there, are interested in Tannehill. Cleveland could make a case for Tannehill. But the Browns reportedly are set to take a much surer bet, Alabama running back Trent Richardson. It says here it would be a huge mistake for the Browns to risk the No. 4 pick on a QB who has just 19 college starts (Tannheill's total). Cleveland probably can not risk moving down if its heart is set on Richardson. But if Cleveland would be just as happy with a receiver, the Browns could move down to No. 10 and hope for Notre Dame's Michael Floyd.

Tampa, at No. 5, needs a cornerback, a linebacker or a running back. The Bucs can sit right there and get either LSU corner Morris Claiborne or Boston College LB Luke Kuechly. Don't expect the Bucs to move. St. Louis is No. 6 and desperately needs a wideout for QB Sam Bradford. The Rams had a league-low nine - NINE - TD passes last season. There is speculation the Rams could use an offensive tackle, which is why the Bills would want to move ahead of them in a bid for Kalil. Would the Rams pass up Oklahoma State stud WR Justin Blackmon in favor of Kalil? I say no. The Rams have two high picks playing tackle in Rodger Saffold and Justin Smith. Both were well regarded entering last season. Both struggled badly in the deep-drop offense of Josh McDaniels, who now is back in New England. Saffold and Smith are better than they showed last year and will be better with better coaching, which Jeff Fisher will provide. The Rams need a wideout. They could, however, move back in the draft and still aim for Floyd. They're a trade partner for the Bills, too, if the Vikings don't want to pull the trigger on a move down to No. 10.

Then we get to No. 7, Jacksonville, which is eager to trade down. Lots of teams could be calling the Jaguars for a move up for any number of players. There is speculation Philadelphia might move up to No. 7 to get defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. Some other team could make a move with the Jags for Tannehill. Failing that, Tannehill still would be on the board for Miami at No. 8, the most logical destination for the Texas A&M QB. Nevertheless, if a team wants Tannehill, why move up to No. 3? 

There are at least two prime ways a Bills bid to move up breaks down. One is if the Browns are going to pull a surprise. The other is if the trade partner isn't confident about what it will get at the No. 10 spot. Minnesota needs a corner or a receiver (in addition to a tackle). One would think either CB Stephon Gilmor or Floyd will be there at No. 10. Cleveland needs a WR (Floyd?). St. Louis needs a WR (Floyd?).

Round One promises to be an evening of intrigue.

---Mark Gaughan

 

Report: Bills have eyes for Kalil

The Buffalo Bills need a left tackle, and the 10th spot in the draft doesn't look like the most perfect place to get one. With that in mind, an NFL Network report tonight that the Bills would be interested in moving up to get Southern California left tackle Matt Kalil makes some sense for Buffalo.

According to former NFL general manager Charley Casserly, analyst for the NFL Network and CBS Sports, the Bills would be willing to give up their second round pick (No. 41 overall) in order to make the move up to get the top-rated left tackle in the draft.

Minnesota, with the No. 3 pick, has been pegged as the destination for Kalil for months. However, the Vikings have made it known they would be willing to move down. In addition, the Vikings' need for a cornerback and a receiver are just as great, if not greater, than their need for a tackle. The Vikings' pass defense was horrible last season, and they play in a division with star passers Aaron Rodgers of Green Bay, Matt Stafford of Detroit and Jay Cutler of Chicago. Speculation in recent days has centered on the possibility of the Vikings taking cornerback Morris Claiborne of Louisiana State at No. 3 instead of Kalil.

Minnesota might be able to get the second best cornerback (South Carolina's Stephon Gilmore) or the second best receiver (Notre Dame's Michael Floyd) if it moved back to No. 10. On the other hand, if the Vikings opt for Claiborne, Kalil probably would fall to at least No. 6 (St. Louis) or No. 7 (Jacksonville). There's a slight chance he could fall farther than that.

Moving up and giving up a prime draft choice would be out of character for Bills General Manager Buddy Nix, who covets draft picks like gold. However, Nix acknowledged last week that the best left tackles come very early in the draft.

"There are a high percentage of them that’s drafted in the top 10 - left tackles," Nix said. "Again, don’t read into that, but most of the starters in this league, especially Pro-Bowlers, were taken in the first eight or nine picks."

If the Bills can't or won't move up for Kalil, their best option at left tackle likely will be Georgia's Cordy Glenn, a 346-pounder who switched from guard to left tackle for his senior year and improved as the season went on. The problem in that scenario, however, is that the Bills probably would not be sticking to their draft board by taking Glenn 10th. It's likely they would have higher rated players available above him, such as Gilmore, Floyd, Alabama safety Mark Barron or Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly.

How much competition might the Bills face in seeking to move up? Speculation for months on the trade-up prospects has centered on teams that might want to move up to get the third best quarterback in the draft, Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill. Some team might want to make the Vikings an offer for him. However, it does not look like there will be much action for other teams moving up to try to get Kalil.

Thursday's first round promises a lot of intrigue, whichever route the Bills take.

---Mark Gaughan

 

 

 

BuffaloNews.com is your home for live NFL draft coverage

Join BuffaloNews.com and its deep roster of sports reporters and columnists for live coverage of the NFL draft Thursday and Friday nights.

* Live video Webcast beginning at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, hosted by Tim Graham (@ByTimGraham) and Jay Skurski (@JaySkurski).

* Reports from One Bills Drive from Mark Gaughan (@gggaughan), Jerry Sullivan (@TBNSully), Bob DiCesare and Lauren Mariacher (@Lolo_Nicole).

* Additional analysis from Bucky Gleason (@TBNbucky) and Mike Harrington (@BNHarrington), and segments featuring Sports Editor Lisa Wilson (@lisabellwilson) and Milt Northrop.

* A live chat with input from a wide array of News sports reporters.

* A running ticker with the latest picks, as well as Mark Gaughan's best available players remaining at each position.

* Updates from @TBNSports with #tbndraft.

* Live video coverage of the second and third rounds begins at 6 p.m. Friday.

Video: A scout's perspective on draft day

The Buffalo Bills' Coordinator of College Scouting Doug Majeski shares his insights into the life of a college scout for an NFL team.

VIDEO REMOVED DUE TO NFL COPYRIGHT RESTRICTIONS

Join The Buffalo News for extensive live coverage during the first round of the NFL draft Thursday night.

Watch a live broadcast beginning at 7:30 p.m., follow a ticker with draft selections and join a live chat.

The News' deep roster of sports reporters and columnists will be situated in the newsroom and at One Bills Drive to bring you the latest developments.

Jay Skurski and Tim Graham are anchoring the draft webcast from One News Plaza, with additional insight from Mike Harrington and Bucky Gleason.

Mark Gaughan, Jerry Sullivan, Bob DiCesare and Lauren Mariacher will be at the Bills' home in Orchard Park and will be getting reaction from the Bills' front office.

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