15 most important Patriots for 2019: No. 3, Stephon Gilmore

With the Patriots off until training camp, we’re having a series featuring the 15 most important Patriots players for the upcoming season. The countdown will continue for the next several weeks.

No. 3: Stephon Gilmore

Position: Cornerback

2018 stats: 45 tackles, 2 interceptions, 20 passes defensed

Why he’s No. 3: Gilmore has come a long way from his first year in New England (2017) when he seemed to have some issues with learning the system and the communication. The veteran was a Pro Bowler last season, which might have been his best year ever as a pro. Each and every week Gilmore would draw the opponents best receiver and he would always rise to the occasion. He also has a low-key confidence about him that goes a long way. Gilmore isn't a loud person by nature, but he allows his play on the field to do the talking.

The NFL has trended so much to a passing league of late making cornerbacks even that much more important to defenses. Without Gilmore, there would be a great trickle down effect in the secondary and it's hard to imagine it being as successful as it has been in recent years. The Patriots secondary is the strength of the entire unit and Gilmore is one of the biggest reasons why. New England's defense had its fair share of issues without a true No. 1 corner in recent years and that has changed in a big way because of him.

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