Stephon Gilmore makes Carolina dark horse in NFC

October 7, 2021

Courtesy: USA Today

By Austin Medina

Despite starting the season 3-1, the Carolina Panthers have endured plenty of adversity already. First-round draft pick Jaycee Horn suffered a season-ending foot injury, leaving the Panthers scrambling for secondary help.

After acquiring former first round pick CJ Henderson from Jacksonville, Carolina doubled down by acquiring veteran corner Stephon Gilmore for a sixth-round pick.

Gilmore, 31, is a two time All Pro and is only two years removed from being the NFL Defensive Player of the Year. He suffered a partially torn quad in Week 15 last season and has been working his way back to full health since.

While he won’t play until Week 7 with his PUP designation, Gilmore will provide Carolina with one of the best secondaries in the NFL. The former Gamecock knows all too well about Carolina, as he grew up just 30 miles from Charlotte in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

Aside from the homecoming, Gilmore’s physical man coverage and ability to press is exactly what the Panthers desired when they drafted Horn 8th overall in the 2021 Draft. Gilmore will step in and immediately replace Horn’s production, while being able to teach the young star as he recuperates from foot surgery.

The Patriots traded Gilmore in large part for cap flexibility, freeing up roughly $7 million in cap space with the trade.

Carolina has added two physical, man corners to play alongside cornerback Donte Jackson. Jackson has been the number one corner in Carolina since he was drafted in 2018. In his first three seasons, he recorded 147 tackles, 10 INTs, and 28 pass deflections.

The Panthers young defense has stars at every level and the veteran leadership added in Gilmore will make them a sneaky dark horse team out of the NFC.