The 2013 NFL Draft will be without a Patrick Peterson type impact cornerback. That said, there’s a pretty good one that could wind up a top ten pick.
Each year, it seems Alabama is putting cornerbacks into the NFL Draft. This year they may be sending the best one of the bunch. Dee Milliner was a part-time starter for Alabama last season as they featured Dre Kirkpatrick and DeQuan Menzie. I’m not one to question Nick Saban but it appeared, at times, that Milliner was clearly the superior corner to Menzie and quite possibly better than Kirkpatrick. Tennessee decided to test Milliner in 2011 and quickly realized he wasn’t the one. Even so, Milliner needed to come into 2012 and prove he was a capable full-time starter that was capable of locking down opponents No. 1 receiver week in and week out. Milliner was up to the task.
At 6-foot-1, 198 pounds Milliner possesses next level size to matchup with the bigger receivers in the NFL. He’s a physical corner that excels in press coverage and in run support. Alabama throws a lot of coverages at their players and Milliner was solid in all techniques. The biggest surprise in Milliner’s game was his read-and-react skills, see Michigan tape. I was impressed with his instincts as he appeared to be a veteran corner this season.
While I don’t believe Milliner is a Patrick Peterson type prospect, lacks the pure athleticism, he is a solid choice at the top of the draft. Here’s a look at some of the skills that set Milliner apart from other 2013 cornerbacks.
This is a toss into the boundary to Dee Milliner’s side. The front side guard is going to work up into the second level with the H scraping for a double on the linebacker. The key blocks on this play is the tight end and H-back doubling the standup ‘backer with the H scraping to the linebacker. The other block that is absolutely necessary for the success of this play is the receiver turning and running the corner to the numbers to create a lane off the inside hip of the receiver and outside hip of the tight end.
Milliner blows the gap and the receiver barely gets a hand on him. Most impressive about this play is the tackling technique. Milliner is one-on-one with a 6-foot-2, 235 pound back. Milliner is a big corner but this is a solid back. Milliner puts on a tackling clinic for young corners. He drives through the thighboards, keeps his head up and wraps the lower half. Results in a five yard loss on 2 and 1.
If Milliner gets blocked in the least bit on this play, it winds up being a big one. The front side guard gets off and H is working off the double to the backer. It’s blocked really well with the exception of the receiver on Milliner. Milliner can gamble inside because he knows he has a safety working outside contain over the top.
This appears to be a packaged concept from Michigan with zone/bubble. Either way, Saban draws up a zone blitz with Milliner. Milliner is brought frequently and really carved a niche as one of the better zone blitzer from the cornerback spot that I have seen. Another example of a well blocked play that is blown up by Milliner’s ability to affect the run game.
This is a great example of what makes Milliner so special in run support. Instincts. Milliner is flying off the edge on the zone blitz. It would be natural to make the highlight play by flying in and taking out the backs ankles. We’ve seen that blow up in the face of the zone blitzer and lead to big plays. Instead Milliner breaks down, squares his shoulders, and takes away the outside and forces the action back inside. He makes the tackle for a two-yard loss.