Steve Spurrier, or ‘the visored one’,  has turned around the fortunes of the University of South Carolina’s football program since he took the head coaching job in 2005. Side note: Read this transcript of a recent Spurrier press conference – the man is a great quote.

If there’s a legitimate gripe to be had regarding Spurrier’s tenure in Columbia, it’s the lack of high end NFL talent produced by the program. This year’s draft may begin to alter that perception.

We’ve profiled Melvin Ingram, the odds on favorite to be the first defensive end to be taken in the draft. Today we feature Stephon Gilmore, another Gamecock expected to go high.

The cornerback had scouts literally drooling (reports indicate high levels of a drool-like substance at Lucas Field) during his Combine posting a 4.4 in the 40-yard dash to go along with impressive measureables for a CB. Draft guru Mike Mayock rates him as the second best DB in the draft behind Morris Claiborne.

Vitals

Height: 6’1

Weight: 190

Class: Junior

Born: September 19, 1990

Combine Numbers

40-yard dash: 4.40

Vertical jump: 36 inch

Broad jump: 123 inch

Bench Press: 15 reps at 225 Pounds

Three-cone drill: 6.61

20-yard shuttle: 3.94

60-yard TD shuttle: 11.15

Arm length: 31 inches

Hands: 9 1/4 inches

College Stats

2011: 13 GP  46 Tackles  7 Pass break ups  4 Interceptions

2010: 14 GP  79 Tackles  2 Pass break ups  3 Interceptions

2009: 13 GP  56 Tackles  8 Pass break ups  1 Interception

What the experts say

National Football Post

Is a “plus” sized corner with good quickness and fluidity. Needs to clean up his footwork in off/zone concepts, but has skill set to play near the line, check receivers and turn and run. Should be able to fight for a starting role during his rookie year in more of a zone scheme.

Mike Mayock

Trust me, six-foot corners with long arms are rare, especially when they run 4.4 with his movement skills, I’ve got him as the No. 2 corner for a reason. I think he’s a Top 10 to Top 15 pick. Not a lot of people have him that high, but I saw it again today.

Mel Kiper Jr.

I think the 40 time was the big thing  that boosted his stock. To be as physical as he is, people were wondering about recovery ability and transitioning from college to pro and having the kind of recovery speed and the overall catch-up ability you need. Certainly to be as aggressive and as physical as he is, this kid will tackle, throw his body around. He’s an intense competitor.

Tony Pauline

Gilmore is moving up draft boards.  Word is he could be off the board in the top half of round one.  We also continue to here the opinion that Gilmore, rather than Dre Kirkpatrick of Alabama, will be the second cornerback selected after Morris Claiborne.

Frank Cooney

Several NFL scouts were enamored with the mental and physical abilities of this athletic corner and looking for a reason to push him up draft boards. He gave them reason at the scouting combine when he quantified his speed with an unofficial 40 time of 4.40 and had the second best time among defensive backs in the 20-yard shuttle (3.94). He also measured a full 1/4 inch over 6 feet tall. Gilmore plays with an astute awareness that makes him a dangerous defender to test. He is a vocal team leader who understands everybody’s role on defense and is especially effective in zone coverage, where he seems to triangulate well, tracking both the quarterback and receivers.

MockingTheDraft

Over the past three seasons at South Carolina, Gilmore started 40 games and finished his career with eight interceptions. South Carolina runs mainly a zone scheme, but typically has five players who can be designated as defensive backs. Because of that, Gilmore has experience in a few spots in the secondary and played some at a hybrid safety/cornerback spot. He should be best in the NFL in a zone scheme, but has the size and athleticism to become a good press corner in time.

The Fifth Down

At 6-1, Stephon Gilmore has elite length for the cornerback position.  He uses it to his advantage at the line, extending to re-route receivers in his press.  Gilmore could add some bulk at 195 pounds, but he already possesses good strength.  Because of his size, Gilmore thrives when in a press position, whether or not he actually jams the receiver.  He has excellent lateral quickness, particularly for his size, mirroring receivers with ease.

Walter Football

Gilmore performed well at the Combine with a strong 40 time. He was quick and flexible in the field drills. With Gilmore’s size and speed, it is not surprising that he is a rising prospect after the Combine. Gilmore’s stock has been on the rise, and he could easily be a first-round pick on draft day.

Gilmore’s ball skills are rated well behind Claiborne and Kirkpatrick, and South Carolina’s reliance on zone coverage could make it harder for Gilmore to transition to the NFL immediately as a starter.

That said, the prevalence of tall, fast and physical wide receivers in the NFL make cornerbacks with the size and speed of Gilmore prized commodities.