For the second year in a row, Nick Saban and the Alabam Crimson Tide won the National Championship, and once again much of their success is because of their defense. One of the biggest contributors for Alabama this year was CB Dee Milliner who dominated in his first season as a starter. Milliner was the type of physical corner Nick Saban loves, and now Milliner heads to the NFL as a top pick.
6′ 1″ 200 lbs.
Before you even start to watch Dee Milliner, the first thing you notice about him is his size. Standing at 6′ 1″ he already has an advantage when he walks on to the field. Milliner’s size and strength make him one of the most physical corners in this draft and he is still getting better. Milliner excels at physically wearing down an opposing wide receiver and getting the advantage early on. When in coverage, Milliner can still stick to his man all the way down the field, sticking to them until the ball is in the air when he can make a play.
Milliner always keeps an eye on the football, waiting until just the right moment and he turns it away. When the ball is in the air, Milliner has the ability to go up and get it before the wide receiver. His long arms and lower body strength combine to make him a magician at turning away passes. Even when Milliner isn’t in coverage, he can come up and blow plays up in the backfield. He is everything you could ask for in a physical corner, and will be highly coveted on draft day.
While there is a lot to like about Dee Milliner, there are still some holes in his game that are hard to ignore. Milliner has the size to cover big wide receivers, but he runs into trouble against speedier wide receiver’s. Milliner has average speed and if he isn’t able to punish them off the snap, they have a great shot at running by him. If a wide receiver gets the jump on him off the line of scrimmage, Milliner doesn’t have the speed to catch up to him and prevent the big play.
Milliner also needs to improve when tackling the ball carrier. He takes bad angles and often dives at a player rather than wrapping him up. He has the strength to be an excellent tackler, but still needs to work on his technique. Several times when in the open field, he would take a bad angle on the runner and they would pick up more yards. If Milliner wants to be a Pro Bowl corner at the next level, he has to become a better tackler.
One last area of Milliner’s game that I think needs improvement is his hands. While defensive backs aren’t known for having great hands, it seemed as if almost once every game Milliner would have an interception right in his hands only to drop it. When you have a ball in your hands you have to catch it, otherwise you are giving away momentum. While Milliner is more of a shutdown corner, he could become a playmaker if he spends some time with his hands. Every turnover counts, and all it takes is one to change the outcome of a game.
Milliner projects as a Top-10 pick in the draft, but could fall if his shoulder surgery has any lingering effects. He is the top defensive back in this class and a team in the Top-5 in need of a defensive back could take him. Milliner can start immediately and provide an NFL team with a physical corner.