Finding a cornerback with good cover skills is very hard to do in the NFL. For that reason players that maybe don’t deserve a big payday but are decent in coverage have received some big contracts recently. Brandon Carr, Jason McCourty among others have received some sizeable contracts simply because they are OK in coverage and far better than some of the other players available at the position. There are really only a select handful of players in the NFL who are great in man-to-man coverage, and teams are always looking to add someone like that on their roster. The organization that has the opportunity to select Dee Milliner this year will have that player on their team.
When isolated man-to-man, there isn’t a better player in this year’s class than Dee Milliner. On film it seemed like he was nearly always in the hip pocket of his man, always in the perfect position to make a play. He is very fluid in his movements, has great speed for someone his size at 6’1”, and has some great ball skills. One of the things that impressed me the most was his willingness to play at 100% until the whistle was blown. On several plays the receiver made the catch, but Dee kept fighting until the ball was knocked loose and ruled incomplete. Giving an effort like that will cause a lot of NFL scouts to salivate.
Milliner did just about everything that he is going to be asked to do in the NFL while playing for the Crimson Tide. He played on the outside as well as the inside. He blitzed the quarterback on several occasions with some moderate success; recording 1.5 sacks this past year. He played special teams on the punt coverage unit. He seems like a team player who will be willing to do anything and everything to help his future NFL team.
Taking a look at Dee’s numbers truly does not do him justice. Milliner only recorded 2 interceptions this past season along with 20 passes broken up, 1 blocked kick, and 4 tackles for loss. Those aren’t mind-blowing numbers on paper, but lucky for Dee football isn’t played on paper. Dee is going to be one of the best players on any given football field on any given Sunday.
Just to pump the breaks a little bit, Dee is not God’s gift to defensive backs. He has wrinkles just like any other player. On film he got blocked far too easily on running plays, completely getting taken out on some plays altogether. His biggest issue though may be his tackling. Far too many times I saw Dee fail to wrap up his man and miss tackles. For younger players it seems that good form tackling is a common problem, but it really seems like an issue with Dee. To really live up to his potential, he needs to work on wrapping up his man; when taking notes on Milliner I wrote “NEEDS TO WRAP UP” several times in all-caps and with exclamation points. If Dee can get over this issue there is really no good reason why he can’t be in the conversation for the best corner in the league in a few years.
Dee Milliner is a top-5 talent who will likely not be taken in the top 5. He has unbelievable reaction time, great speed, and good hands. He appears to have a good work ethic, seems to be a good teammate, and has a great motor. You don’t often see a player he can stay on his man as well as Dee can. Milliner has all kinds of potential and whoever picks him in April will be getting a stud in their defensive backfield, someone to build their entire defense around. I believe that the Lions would be very wise to take this kid at number 5, if he hasn’t already been taken.
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