Top defensive AFC rookie prospects for 2012

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Drafting for defensive positions can be a lot more complicated of a process than drafting for offense. On offense, most of the players can be compared on the same scale. If a team identifies that it needs a wide receiver, then all they have to do is evaluate the wide receivers available, as virtually any player will be able to learn the playbook and contribute.

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Defense, on the other hand, requires a lot more analysis. A great defensive end in college won’t necessarily fit with an NFL team in a 3-4 package, no matter how great he is. Moving players around in different defensive schemes changes the duties of the position, so it’s critical to evaluate players properly and make sure that they can fit the role they’re being drafted for. There were definitely some misses in this year’s NFL draft, but some teams managed to hit home runs as well. These are the top three defensive rookies coming into the AFC this year.

1. Stephon Gilmore, Bills CB

The Bills started out very strong last season only to finish weak, and part of the reason was their defensive unit. The output of offensive studs like Fred Jackson just couldn’t offset the holes in the defense. For that reason, the Bills looked to improve their defense through the draft. They appear to have found their man in Stephon Gilmore.

Drafted out of USC with the 10th pick, Gilmore is considered NFL-ready in all aspects of the game. He’s flexible enough to play in man-to-man coverage or zone defense, and he can play up on the line against his man or sag off for deep coverage. He still has some developing to do, but all the signs are there that he can turn into an elite cornerback. That’s something the Bills need, and the team is optimistic that Gilmore can fill that need. Read more here…

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