Kevin C. Cox
Read more community sourced draft more profiles in our Pound the Table series
Despite adding a quartet of defensive backs in free agency, it is more likely than not that the Eagles will go back to the well in the draft. Our latest Pound the Table, features Dee Milliner and BGN member, drc242, stating his case for the Alabama cornerback. Here is what drc242 had to say about "his guy."
While Mike Kaye has coined our defensive backs a bunch of raptors, I like the thought but raptors (while awesome) are small and need the help of others to survive. I think it's time to introduce a T-Rex to the raptor cage, someone who will step in and dominate from day 1, seize the starting job with both hands, who can be placed on an island all game long and fend for himself without any help, and be the type of shutdown corner the Eagles desperately needed for years. I am talking of course of Alabama's Dee Milliner. A physically gifted athlete measured at 6'0" and 200lbs he has the size NFL coaches dream about and with his blazing 4.37 forty he has the speed to cover any receiver in the NFL. Not only does he have the physical skill set, but he has the instincts, intelligence, and work ethic required to be a worthy of the #4 overall pick
Pros: Dee Milliner is as physical as corners come, when watching his game tape against Michigan at one point he takes a Michigan WR and just tosses him out of bounds like a ragdoll, and throughout the season he was the best pressure corner in college. Chip Kelly has stated that he wants to run an attacking style of defense and Milliner fits that style perfectly, and having a dominant corner opens up a lot more options for play calling. The main worry with Milliner's physical style is that he will be burned by faster wide receivers at the pro level, however Milliner was able to silence this fear at the combine with his forty, and it shows that not only does he have the skill to stop underneath routes but also the speed to play catch up if he gets beat. Milliner's physicality does not stop with the passing game, while is tackling needs to be improved he has great instincts in recognizing the run and plays fearlessly in getting up and attempting to stop the run. Apart from his physicality his instincts were the thing that truly seemed to stand out to me as he frequently goes with his gut and blows up a play. Milliner also has a great motor on the field sticking with receivers for extended periods of time, fighting through blocks, and making cross field touchdown saving tackles.
Cons: The first a biggest con when it comes to Milliner is his tackling. To be frank its bad, not as bad as a DRC or Coleman, but there were plenty of times throughout the season that Milliner had a chance to make a play and failed, and as every Eagles fan knows there is nothing more frustrating than missed tackles, however as opposed to DRC and Asante Milliner's issue is not attitude problem but rather poor technique, which should be fixable early in his career. Milliner's second biggest issue is his ball tracking skills which leave a lot to be desired, while he almost always has great coverage on a receiver there are many times when he allows a pass to reach the receivers hands that should be easily batted away. That being said Milliner was at the top of college football with 20 pass defended so he has a knack for being around the ball put he has the ability to approve his playmaking even more. The last of Milliner's major issues is that he is a Saban corner, meaning that he very rarely had to backpedal in coverage, a skill that will be a top priority for him, and little experience in zone coverage. I have flashes of a lost Nnamdi thinking of Dee Milliner being used in complex zone coverage's early in his career, and with the previous coaching staff that would be an issue. Chip Kelly however understands tailoring a team to its players and would not put Milliner in the same position Nnamdi faced.
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Now at this point you probably are asking to yourself "Why do we need a corner didn't we just sign two guys." Yes we did, but neither corner can be counted on to be a solid starter, Bradley Fletcher was the best corner in the NFL last year in terms of yards per catch per snap, but was benched midway through the season because he kept getting penalized and has an strong injury issue. Corey Williams on the other hand is a staple of good health, but was one of the most abused corners in the NFL and gave up the 2nd most number of 1st downs in the league, not to mention he can be a major hothead. While both these guys have great potential, neither are anywhere near the quality of starter that Dee Milliner can be. The other issue to address with drafting Milliner is "Does the value of a CB really warrant a top 5 pick." And my answer to that is absolutely yes, especially in a draft as weak as this one. Dee Milliner is one of the rare types of corners who have the ability to completely shut down the opposition every Sunday, and being able to take a team's #1 receiver out of the game can stop even the best of offenses. While I will admit a that Von Miller as a pass rusher has a greater impact than Darrell Revis has as a corner, I don't see any pass rushers in this draft that will have a greater impact on the defense that will rival Milliner's ability to shut down the outside. (Dion Jordan hasn't proven himself as a playmaker, and I don't like Jarvis' play in run defense)
Bottom Line: Milliner may not have the best technique of the top corners to come out of the SEC in the last few years, but he plays with an intensity that is hard to match. He has amazing football instincts and intellect and excels at being able to diagnose a play and put himself in position to make a play. Some may say that a corner isn't worthy of being a top ten pick, but Dee Milliner is one of the rare corners who possess the size, speed, intelligence, intensity, and discipline needed to shut down even the best wide receivers.
Next up is RegalEagle with Luke Joeckel.