Thursday, April 25, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Jets take Milliner 9th
By Rich Cimini
PICK: First round (9th overall)
PLAYER: Dee Milliner
WEIGHT: 201 pounds
What it means: Four days after trading star CB Darrelle Revis, the Jets replaced him by picking the top corner in the draft. Milliner was regarded as a top-5 pick after the scouting combine, where he blazed the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds, but his stock was hurt by medical concerns. He underwent shoulder surgery (torn labrum) on March 12 and he probably will miss the entire offseason program. It was his fifth surgery. He also had a right-knee scope, sports hernia, right tibia stress fracture and both shoulders. Milliner is the complete package, with excellent coverage skills, smarts and toughness. Said one AFC personnel director: "He's steady and consistent. He'll be a solid starter, but I don't think he's a Pro Bowl player." The big knock on him is that he lacks ball skills -- only six interceptions. But he led the nation with 21 pass breakups last season.
How he fits the defensive scheme: Milliner is well-coached with sound fundamentals, coming from a Nick Saban system. He played a lot of zone at Alabama, but scouts say he has the skills to be a man-to-man corner -- and we all know Rex Ryan loves to play man-to-man. Clearly, the Jets aren't comfortable with Kyle Wilson as the starter opposite Antonio Cromartie. This will allow Wilson to return to his best role, covering the slot as the nickel back. Cornerback depth was an issue for the Jets, so the pick makes sense in that respect, considering they will face two spread offenses in the AFC East, the Patriots and Bills.
Projected impact: People will wonder: If the Jets wanted a corner, why not just sign Revis to a contract extension? Here's the reason: Money. Revis is making $16 million per year and Milliner will earn about $3 million per, based on the rookie slotting system. There's risk here for the Jets because of his injury history. They might not be able to get him on the field until training camp, meaning he will likely fall behind. John Idzik's first pick as the Jets' GM certainly will spark debate.