On NFL.com, senior analyst Gil Brandt lists out his top ten candidates for a break-out season from the 2013 draft class. The Jets picked cornerback Dee Milliner No. 9 in last year’s draft and Brandt notes that after a rocky start, things got better down the stretch:
[He] really showed something toward the end of the season, specifically in Weeks 16 and 17. In those two games, Milliner broke up 10 passes — that’s practically unheard of, the equivalent of having four interceptions in one game — and snagged three picks … Being viewed by many as the replacement for Darrelle Revis didn’t make Milliner’s rookie year any easier. While I don’t know if you can ever truly replace Revis, Milliner has turned it around, and I think he has a better-than-average chance of making the Pro Bowl within the next two years.
Bonus Link: On the subject of cornerbacks, PFF takes a look at the numbers for slot corners, with Kyle Wilson in among the league leaders.
Bent, TheJetsBlog.comAs I’ve already mentioned this year, I’ll be writing about Dee Milliner in detail soon, hopefully in May. While we always anticipated he would make a slow start, as is usually the case with cornerbacks that played for Nick Saban, it cannot be understated how startling the difference in his performance was between the start and end of the season. Milliner barely got close to making a play on the ball in the first half of the season as he struggled to adjust to the nuances of the pro game following a disrupted offseason campaign. However, down the stretch he was consistently breaking up passes, as noted by Brandt in his comments above.
Milliner is not the finished article yet, but held his own well in December as the light-bulb appeared to come on for him. If Milliner can continue to improve at the same rate, then Brandt’s pro bowl prediction has a good chance of coming true.
As for Wilson, his numbers are certainly good, although there were admittedly a few times where he got lucky. However, this does put into perspective how his performance stacks up with other slot cornerbacks around the league. It will be interesting to see whether his role expands this year and whether the Jets intend to keep him in their plans with his rookie contract set to expire at the end of the season.
The most incredible stat of the season from Wilson was that he was penalty-free in 15 of the 16 games. The only exception was the Bills game in week three where he had five total penalties, including four on consecutive plays. That brings us neatly back to Milliner who had zero penalties – the only cornerback in the NFL to play more than 600 snaps without getting flagged.