The “silent assassin” himself, Stephon Gilmore has earned a top ten spot in the NFL’s annual top 100 ranking, landing the 9th spot. A well earned ranking indeed, however, could he have been ranked higher? That’s the question and there is no clear answer, it’s all subjective. Lucky for us Pats fans, Gilmore makes a convincing case.
In order to truly understand what makes Gilmore the force that he is, we must look to his stats (provided by ESPN)
|Total Tackles||Fumble Recoveries||Interceptions||Defensive Touchdowns||Interception Return Yardage||Passes Defensed|
These are impressive for a defensive back, but there are two categories that stand out in particular. First, he racked up 6 interceptions, tied for the most in the league, stemming from that is that fact that he took 2 of those back to the endzone for touchdowns. Meaning, during that season, if he caught an interception, he had a 33.3% chance of scoring a defensive touchdown. Secondly, he led the league with 20 passes defensed, that’s breaking up 20 passes this season. One must also remember who he was covering this season, some people he locked down included; Juju Smith-Schuster, DeAndre Hopkins, Alshon Jeffrey, Amari Cooper, and Sammy Watkins, to name a few.
Moving on to where he should be ranked, we must look at two players who were ranked above him, these 2 players of interest are, DeAndre Hopkins (number 8) and Aaron Donald (number 5). DeAndre Hopkins and Stephon Gilmore faced off in Houston on December 1st 2019; while the Texans did edge out the Patriots, 28-22, Hopkins was a non factor, only catching 5 passes on 8 targets for 67 yards and no scores. On Hopkins’ longest catch (a 27 yard jump ball) Gilmore was not covering him at that time, so to say that Hopkins should have a higher rank is questionable at best. Now let’s take a look at Aaron Donald. The reason Gilmore should be ranked ahead of him is simple, Gilmore won the “Defensive Player of the Year” award. The award signifies that whoever wins it is the best player on defense, so common sense would dictate that Gilmore should be ranked higher than Donald. On the top 100 show, many players voiced their admiration of Gilmore’s play and their frustrations of playing him:
Braxton Berrios: “He’s one of those DB’s where you sit back and you’re like how do I get open, how do I beat him?”
Xavier Rhodes: “His technique is flawless.”
Darius Slay: “Easily defensive player of the year in my book.”
Allen Hurns: “That comes from experience, a lot of cornerbacks aren’t able to do that.”
Either way, I’m happy that a Patriot managed to get into the top ten (but don’t get me started on the Patriots players who were snubbed), so the answer to whether Gilmore should be ranked higher is yes. Anywhere from 8-5 would suffice, I would actually have him ranked at the 5 spot, swapping he and Aaron Donald. At the end of the day, his ranking is good, after all, being underrated makes a good player hungrier for more success.