New York Jets Forgotten Man – Dee Milliner

Connor Rogers breaks down New York Jets rookie corner Dee Milliner, who has been receiving limited buzz heading into training camp

With the 9th overall selection in the 2013 NFL Draft, the New York Jets select Dee Milliner, Cornerback, Alabama.” The crowd cheers, some roar for what they hope is the next Darrelle Revis, while the minority of the crowd realizes for once, the Jets took the most talented football player on the big board with a top ten selection. With all this hoopla, why has Dee Milliner been a quiet topic in Jets land, pre-training camp? Certainly his recovery from a torn labrum in his shoulder has a lot to do with it, but nabbing Geno Smith (possibly the 2013 draft’s most popular player) in the second round has also aided the lack of a spotlight in Milliner’s direction. While buzz is virtually meaningless before training camp unless your accused of murder, the Jets need to strike gold with DeMarcus Milliner as they look to infuse youth into a once dominant defense.

Standing a shade over six feet tall, bolstering a 200 pound muscular frame, Milliner certainly looks the part of an All-American cornerback who played for two NCAA championship teams. Beyond the appearance, he clocks in a 4.37 forty yard dash displaying “elite” speed, not only for a corner but amongst all combine participants.

Outside the impressive measurables lays an All-American cornerback for a college football team that is building a reputation as a dynasty. It’s quite difficult to find the negatives on Milliner. He played for two championship teams against the best and most NFL ready competition college football had to offer. He locked down the opposition’s top receiving threat week after week, whether that was a wide out, a slot receiver, or tight end. He led college football in pass break ups with twenty. When scouts began to rank the cornerbacks entering the 2013 draft, their only main knock on Milliner was that he possessed “average straight line speed”, then he ran a 4.37 at the combine.

Dee’s physical play rarely has him playing far off his man, but in the few situations where his man is given space he hits like a strong safety. While at times he throws his body around too much, physical corners who play the run with tenacity are quite difficult to find. His frame, strength, and speed made him a superior block shedder in college and a standout run supporter along the edge.

A surprising note many analysts have failed to mention is Milliner’s knack for swatting the football. I’ve seen a few reports knocking him for his lack of elite hands, but these reports are overlooking his intelligence. He often recognizes when he can snag the ball from the air and when he is better off batting the ball away from the target. Many young corners over bite for the big play (the interception), and often completely miss the ball. Milliner’s elite pass defending skills will lead to many interception opportunities for defenders in his vicinity.

With proper coaching and a solid supporting cast around him, Milliner is poised for a successful NFL career with the New York Jets. He won’t be expected to be Darrelle Revis from day 1, as standout corner Antonio Cromartie will fill that role. Kyle Wilson has been solid on the outside as well, allowing Milliner to ease his way in. He has experience at nickel from his freshman season at college, where he was a Freshman All-American by College Football News. It’s quite surprising how quiet the news front has been on Milliner, but you can certainly expect him to make a lot of noise come July 25th.

  • Hans

    can’t wait for this guy to turn heads

  • BP

    All good points. Our defense could be top 5 if everything falls right. Is it football season yet?

  • keator

    first off great article! second finally some one is writing about the best rookie the jets drafted this year. All the talk about sheldon and geno, people are overlooking this kid.

    Dee is gonna be special for the Jets, he dominated at 6A highschool ball in bama, was the prized recruit for saban in 2010 at bama. Started as a true freshmen in the ACC, and became arguable the best defensive player in the conference the last 2 years.

    Great pick…

  • keator

    sorry SEC, force of habit living in North Carolina

  • twoshady


  • KAsh

    I expect Milliner to be a mainstay on this team for years to come, and hopefully all the minor surgeries and injuries never affect him or force him into an early retirement.

    As for why he has been overlooked, it comes down to a perfect storm of incidents. The Richardson pick blindsides most people. Geno Smith gets picked and suddenly people see a way that Mark Sanchez might be gone before the start of the season. The OTAs and minicamp are dominated by stories of the quarterback competition, the defensive line, and, most importantly in regards to Milliner, the atrocious wide receiver play. Meanwhile, all this time, Milliner is on a bike, the wheel-less kind.

    So, to recap, Milliner is a top ten pick that gets overshadowed by the surprise of the two picks after him. He is recovering from his last surgery (a labrum tear, if I recall) and is unable to show off his skills to the public. And even if he could, the unit he is going up against has been defeating itself without any help.

    Unless the wideouts show some improvement, Milliner might have to wait until the preseason games to make some noise.

  • Anthony

    I think Milliner is kinda forgotten because of how difficult is it to pick on him. The fact is, besides minor surgeries, what can you do to pick on the guy?

    In a media dominated by nit-picky sport psuedo-journalism, the goal of every story is to grab headlines by making bold, and often outlandish claims that exaggerate player issues.

    Milliner was the best player at his position, winning 2 national championships. Like the article said, he was suppose to have slow straight line speed, instead it turns out he has an explosive 3rd gear.

    The only two media cycles were “replacing revis” and “lots of surgeries.” Not a single reporter would dare stake a claim on his football skills, his football intelligence, his physicality, his character, or anything to do with his ability to play the game.

    Therefor, milliner is a forgotten man. Less because he is actually forgotten, and more because he is really, really good.

  • keator

    im glad he has been forgotten, once he gets to FINALLY put the pads on and line up next to Cro, the sky is the limit.

    I love that the jets are getting playmakers from the SEC now. That is where the athletes and play makers are

  • Harold

    Milliner has really grown on me. I liked him at Alabama but I now think he has star potential. I think if he works hard he can realize his potential on the Jets. Maybe not Revis but Ty Law in his prime would be pretty good.

  • Dan in RI

    The only knock on Milliner is durability. He’s had a bunch of surgeries already, and he has yet to play a pro snap. If he keeps this up, he’ll be in a wheelchair before his contract expires. Other than that, he should be a very good CB–maybe elite. If he can stay healthy, I think we’ll remember this as a very good draft. (I am expecting big things from Richardson, and hoping like hell that we strike gold with Geno Smith.)

  • __fense

    If you look at what the surgeries actually were, it was never anything major. As medicine advances and surgeries carry less risk, I think you are going to see a lot more top rated prospects at all positions with multiple surgeries, and it won’t mean anything. Now, instead of playing through minor pains, a player in college can just get the issue fixed, and be healthier overall. Milliner wouldn’t have any surgeries with the problems he had if he was 10 years older, and the things that he’s had fixed would be starting to catch up with him. Now they won’t, and all it really cost him was drills in minicamps.