The New Orleans Saints still have a big need at the cornerback position, and when you’re talking about the 2013 NFL draft, former Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner is sitting along at the top of the class.
Milliner is considered an elite prospect and one who could be gone within the top 10 picks. That being said, recent injury issues have seemingly had a negative impact on Milliner’s draft stock:
Teams are reportedly concerned about Dee Milliner's shoulder, as he's been unable to rehab while making visits http://t.co/sSYeuHYb1S
— NFL: AroundTheLeague (@NFL_ATL) April 22, 2013
Take these rumblings a few days before the draft with a grain of salt. It’s smokescreen season—whether it’s from a front office of the player’s rep (obviously unlikely here).
Still, if teams are truly concerned about Milliner’s health, there is an outside shot he could fall to the Saints at No. 15 overall.
It’s not like the Saints couldn’t use the help.
Keenan Lewis is your new starting and No. 1 on the depth chart after being brought in via free agency. After that, you have an aging and over-paid Jabari Greer and a youngster in Patrick Robinson who was abused all last season. If the coaching staff does not believe Robinson can take the next step as a starter, cornerback could be the pick at No. 15.
If Milliner somehow falls, it’s not really debatable he will be the best value on the board by a mile. There are other corners such as Florida State’s Xavier Rhodes and Washington’s Desmond Trufant who are more realistic targets for New Orleans, but they are off the board completely if Milliner is available.
Value trumps need here. If Milliner is on the board, he’s the pick. Let’s take a look at his profile.
Pros: As far as cornerback goes, Milliner is a massive prospect at 6’0″ and 200 pounds. He doesn’t have the height of someone like Richard Sherman, but he has the size to play stout in the run game and keep up with the biggest of NFL receivers. He’s a disciplined player with elite athleticism. Recently ran a 4.35 40-yard dash. Possesses excellent read and react skills. Combine with physicality and speed, Milliner is the ideal prospect at the position.
Cons: Obviously the new injury concerns may be an issue. There’s a lack of experience as well considering he only played one full season as a starter during his time at Alabama. At times, he has a tendency to take himself out of a play by being too aggressive Can also work on wrapping up the ball-carrier as he has had issues with tackling.
Pro Comparison: Charles Tillman, CB, Chicago Bears.
Like Charles Tillman, Milliner is a bigger cornerback who is extremely physical in all facets of the game and has a penchant for causing turnovers.
Thanks to Tillman’s physical play, he’s been one of the better corners in the NFL for his 10 years with the Chicago Bears. Last season alone, Tillman recorded an ridiculous 1o forced fumbles to go along with three interceptions.
Milliner’s play is extremely similar to Tillman’s. If the Saints were to land Milliner in the first, he could potentially pair with Keenan Lewis to give the Saints one of the best cornerback tandems in the NFL.