Eric Weeks, TheJetsBlog.comIt wouldn’t be a New York Jets draft if fans weren’t left scratching their craniums incessantly by the end of the night. So here’s to John Idzik carrying on such a valued tradition.
In all seriousness though, there was quite a bit of surprise regarding the first pick mostly because the Jets had been so closely linked to Tavon Austin, Barkevious Mingo, Dion Jordan and the like. Then again there should have been little surprise given the way the board fell eight picks beforehand: The Dolphins swooped in for Jordan, Mingo was a surprise hit with the Browns, and the St. Louis Rams swapped picks with the Buffalo Bills to snag the former Mountaineer. The Jets, like the other 31 teams in the league, have a draft board for a reason, and were content to draft DeMarcus “Dee” Milliner with their first first round pick.
Our own Brian Bassett spoke with Milliner last night who revealed that the Jets would take him if he were still available and they didn’t disappoint as they decided to refortify their secondary sans Darrelle Revis.
So, Who Exactly Is He?
Weight: 201 pounds
225-pound Bench: N/A
40-yard dash: 4.37
20-yard shuttle: 4.32
Birthday: September 14, 1991
Milliner has been around football for the vast majority of his life. His high school career was a marvel, as he started his freshman year and never looked back. Eventually he was named one of the top prospects in the nation and ranked a five-star prospect by Scouts.com. The Alabama native stayed close to home as he joined the Crimson Tide and quietly made contributions year in and year out, despite being surrounded by other star talent, that overshadowed his own abilities until his junior season. He made up for lost time last season as he led the nation with 21 passes defensed, while serving as the leader for Alabama’s secondary as they made their championship run. He also played a large part in keeping tight end Tyler Eifert on a short leash that night as Eifert posted only six catches for 61 yards.
In Milliner you get the complete package. He can play man, he can play zone, he’s got excellent hip motion, he can read offenses, he can react quickly, he tracks the ball with his eyes well, he can play the run, he can tackle, he can close in on the ball quickly and he’s physical. You get so much from Milliner that it’s difficult not be excited about what he can bring to this Jets defense. Scouts have identified that his footwork could use some refinement and he can be overly aggressive, though. Mel Kiper Jr. stated last night he wasn’t overly impressed with his hands largely due to his low interception total. The biggest concern regarding Milliner is his injury history after undergoing five surgeries including a recent shoulder surgery that is expected to sideline him until training camp.
“Essentially, New York traded Darrelle Revis for Dee Milliner and a three next year,” Mike Mayock said. “I’ve got him as my second-rated corner on the board. For me, he does everything. He plays press man. He can play off man. He understands zone concepts. He tackles, which is rare.”
On the face of it, it’s easy to make the argument and say that the Jets didn’t need to make this pick because their passing defense was ranked second in the league without Darrelle Revis. Credit where credit is due, Antonio Cromartie was able to elevate to a whole new level last year. However, teams also didn’t need to pass against the Jets as much because they struggled so much to defend the run. They ranked near the bottom of the league, yielding an average of 133.6 rushing yards per game to their opponents.
What happens when the Jets play the Falcons, Steelers, Patriots, Bengals and Saints consecutively? That’s a lot of firepower for an otherwise unproven secondary beyond Cromartie and maybe the enigmatic Kyle Wilson. You have plenty of depth guys like Isaiah Trufant, Ellis Lankster, Donnie Fletcher, and Darrin Walls, and unknowns in Aaron Berry, due to his struggles to stay healthy, Royce Adams, and Cliff Harris. But there really isn’t that one guy we know of who can step in and have a relatively positive impact. Not like Milliner, at least.
I’m not saying Milliner is the next coming of Revis or anything of the sort. His skill set will match the aggressive ideology Rex Ryan has driven into his defense and he provides an immediate upgrade. It may not have been the ‘ideal’ or ‘sexy’ pick, but I can appreciate and understand why the Jets made it.
With time, hopefully, we can all come to an agreement that it was the right one.