NFL Draft’s Justifiable Jets: Dee Milliner

With the 2013 NFL Draft less than a month away, TJB will offer some daily insight on players in this year’s draft class.  Here is one is a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’s time for the Jets to make a selection.

Dee-MillinerDEE MILLINER
Position: Cornerback
School: Alabama
Height: 6’0″ Weight: 200 pounds

Achievements:
Consensus All-American (2012)
Phil Steele, CFN Freshman All-American (2010)

Where the Jets could get him: Round 1, Milliner has consistently been going high in the first round, but cornerbacks rarely if ever go in the top five and so could drop as far as #10, but likely no further.

Explaining his game: Milliner has good size for the position and plays with excellent coordination and smooth hips.   He has good speed to go with his size, running a 4.37 40 at the Combine even with a torn labrum he was waiting to get surgically repaire.  Milliner played for two years during his time at Alabama as a nickel and dime corner and only saw a more prominent role in his third year (2012) due to playing in a secondary in 2011 with the likes of Mark Barron, Dre Kirkpatrick and DeQuan Menzie who were all drafted a year ago.  With Kirkpatrick and Menzie in the NFL in 2012, Milliner took over as a starter for the Tide and started with a great game against Michigan intercepting a pass and returning it 35 yards.  Milliner also had five tackles and four passes defensed in that game.  Up against Tennessee, Milliner again played well against Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson.  Milliner faced a tougher time against Texas A&M and some other games during the year, but bounced back well with good games against Georgia and while he was a target in the Championship game, he held up well under pressure against Notre Dame.

Milliner is known for using his arms and hands to knock down football and plays well physically with receivers to battle for passes.  Milliner is known for having great awareness and the ability to read and react to the play.  Milliner is a physical player and is a good tackler and plays the run well.  When giving the opportunity, Milliner hits hard and has the right timing that allows him to be able to separate the ball from receiver.  Milliner likes playing his opponents tight and is very good in press-man coverage, but can also play in zone-coverages as well.  Milliner is smooth enough to turn and run and has the upper body strength to reroute receivers after an initial jam.  At Alabama he was not often asked to play in off-man coverage, so that is an area he will need refinement in the pros.

Notes: It is safe to assume that should a deal go down with Tampa that the Jets will look to address the cornerback spot at some point in the draft.  While there’s rumors that the Jets have their eyes set on some cornerback projects deeper in the draft, there’s also the thought that the Jets might need even more help at the spot in a year’s time.  With Darrelle Revis potentially leaving and then Kyle Wilson’s contract up after this year … what will the secondary look like?  With a number of high picks in this draft, the Jets could see the value of taking a player that is often compared to Joe Haden to learn the ropes and become a key part of this defense in coming years.

Milliner is a good prospect, but he’s not as highly regarded as Morris Claiborne was last year and while he’s compared to Haden, analysts seem to think that Haden is a little more fluidity and ball-hawkishness than Milliner might.  Even so, Ryan doesn’t seem to value hawks as much as he values being able to put one of his corners on an island to roll the coverage the other way.

Milliner has a visit that was scheduled with the Jets and he might be a player that slides to the Jets at nine.  If they want him though, it’s very unlikely he’d make it to (assuming the Jets gain a pick) 13 with the Titans desperate to upgrade their secondary picking at #10 and then the Chargers and Dolphins trailing right behind.  Milliner might not be the best man corner in the draft … that might go to Des Trufant, but Milliner has the prototypical size and speed that teams would want.

Articles on Milliner:

Alabama CB Dee Milliner will undergo shoulder surgery

2013 NFL Combine: Dee Milliner lights up 40, solidifies stock

Video: A compilation of Dee Milliner’s highlights from his time at Alabama.