Pros: Physical press cornerback with good size (6-foot-0, 201 pounds) who plays receivers aggressively but intelligently at the line and trails his targets downfield. Adapts for lack of backpedal by playing angles well and dropping quickly into coverage. Very adept and field-aware when playing off-coverage -- keeps his eyes on progressions and reads the action as it develops. Violent and accurate tackler who understands how to close, and wraps up well. Reads quarterback progressions while covering and has the speed to make plays away from his spot.
[Photos: Best and worst dressed at NFL draft]
Outstanding run blitzer who screams into the backfield with authority -- could also be a very effective pass-blitzing defender. Fearless in power situations -- absolutely loves to come up and play the run. On vertical routes, establishes inside position with outstanding footwork and trails the boundary. Times jump balls for the interception. Not a route-jumper per se, but sticks to his man well and knows when to work for the deflection. Plays run fits and excels as a force defender as long as he doesn't have to take on a lot of blocks -- has a safety mentality at times, in a good way.
Cons: Milliner will need to develop a backpedal in the NFL -- you can see the effect of the lack of a functional backpedal when he loses to bigger receivers inside on angular routes, and the margin for error is reduced. Less than optimal recovery speed. Lacks the extra gear some speed cornerbacks have, though he plays fast enough to be very effective in most situations. Will get caught flat-footed at times between two receivers -- over-reads at times and can get fooled in certain combo situations. Medical history is cause for considerable concern, especially as his physical style is such a crucial part of his play.
What he brings to the team: A great overall sense of the position. Though there's a bit of "buyer beware" in his overall report, there's also a great deal of positional versatility, and Milliner combines an excellent fundamental knowledge of the game with an exciting and physical playing style. There are cornerbacks who are separately faster, bigger, and better against the pass in this class, but none of them bring the full-scale skill set Milliner does.
Was it the right pick? Not really sure. D.J. Hayden is a better pass defender, and he was still on the board. Milliner will have to top out and beyond to match up to Darrelle Revis. All the pressure is on Antonio Cromartie now.
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