In Buffalo, he's expected to immediately compete for a starting job in what's becoming an aging defensive backfield. Drayton Florence, a nine-year NFL veteran, is in the final year of his contract. Terrence McGee, also a nine-year veteran, has been injury prone.
Aaron Williams, a second-round draft pick next year, has a chance to also compete for a starting job this season.
Gilmore's selection comes after a busy offseason in which Buffalo made one of the biggest splashes in free agency by signing Williams to a six-year, $100 million contract. The Bills then continued improving their pass rush by signing Mark Anderson in free agency.
"They have a great defense, and they are just looking for a piece to help them be an even better defense," Gilmore said, during a telephone conference call. "I hope I am that piece."
Upon hearing his name announced, Gilmore had a blank reaction, failing to smile as he made his way on stage.
Gilmore explained his reaction as something that came from him knowing he was going to be picked early in the first round, and likely by the Bills.
"I was happy on the inside," he said. "I was just so happy from my head down, and thanked the man above. It's a blessing."
Playing in the SEC provided Gilmore plenty of experience facing NFL-caliber talent. At South Carolina, he's had the chance to defend against A.J. Green, who was drafted fourth overall last year by Cincinnati, and Julio Jones, who was drafted sixth overall by Atlanta last year.
Gilmore becomes the first cornerback the Bills have selected in the first round since drafting Leodis McKelvin with the 11th pick in the 2008 draft.
The defense continues to be a big offseason priority in Buffalo, for a team that's coming off a 6-10 finish and missed the playoffs for a 12th straight year — the NFL's longest active drought.