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20 most important Patriots in 2017: No. 6, Stephon Gilmore

Ryan Hannable
July 17, 2017 - 12:16 pm

With training camp approaching, we’re having a series featuring the 20 most important Patriots players for the upcoming season. The countdown will continue through July 24, the week training camp begins.

No. 6: Stephon Gilmore

Position: Cornerback

2016 stats: 42 tackles, five interceptions, 12 passes defensed (with Bills)

Why he’s No. 6: Gilmore signed a megadeal with the Patriots on the first day of free agency worth $65 million over five years. The 26-year-old had spent his first five years in the league with the Bills, so Bill Belichick and the rest of the organization had a good idea of what kind of player he is before signing him. He along with Malcolm Butler will form one of the best cornerback duos in all of football. Gilmore will likely assume the No. 1 role getting the opponents’ top receiver if the Patriots employ a man-to-man defense in a given week.

Given how much the NFL landscape has changed over the years, having a great cornerback is almost more important than having a great linebacker and Gilmore is that player for the Patriots. It would seem given his size Gilmore will get matched up against the bigger receivers, while Butler would get the smaller ones. The Patriots showed some signs of being vulnerable against taller receivers in Super Bowl LI against the Falcons and that along with this being the final year of Butler’s contract likely played a role in the team going after Gilmore, who stands just over six feet. The Patriots’ pass defense finished 12th in the NFL allowing 238 yards a game last season and should be even better this year with the addition of a player like Gilmore.

Click here for the complete list to date. 

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