Entering this week, the only question about Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner was his speed.
He provided an emphatic answer Tuesday morning, running an unofficial 4.31 40 at the Combine.
Milliner (6-0, 201) is scheduled to have surgery on March 12 to repair a torn labrum (shoulder). He suffered the injury during a Nov. 10 game against Texas A&M, but still played in Alabama’s final four games.
“I could’ve had it right after the game, but I felt the need – I had to come out and do something,” said Milliner, who estimated a two-month rehab stint. “I didn’t just want to sit out the Combine and pro day, and then y’all guys get to wondering, saying this and that. So I just wanted to come out and showcase that I can move around, I can run, and I swing my arm around.”
The only question now is: How high will Milliner be selected? SI.com’s Peter King wrote recently that it would be a surprise if he got past the Lions at No. 5. And NFL Network’s Mike Mayock was asked before the Combine about the Eagles possibly taking Milliner with the fourth pick.
“I happen to think number four is a little high for Dee Milliner,” Mayock said last week. “I really like him. I think he’s a heck of a football player and I think he’d be safe. But I don’t think he’s that explosive 4.35 kind of 40 guy. If they took him, I’d be OK with that because he’s a solid football player, but I think it’s a little high for him.”
After Milliner ran today, Mayock conceded that he’ll be a top-10 pick.
In the last 10 years, only two cornerbacks have been selected in the top-five – Terence Newman, whom the Cowboys selected fifth overall in 2003, and Patrick Peterson, whom the Cardinals took fifth in 2011.
While the Eagles will draft the best player available, they clearly need young corners. And Milliner would bring toughness that has been lacking at the position now for several years. The other factor to consider is scheme fit. We don’t know exactly what Chip Kelly wants out of his cornerbacks, but according to the NFL Network broadcast, Milliner played press about 85 percent of the time in college.
One other note here: Milliner’s time could help the Eagles even if he’s not their selection. If a team falls in love with him and wants to get ahead of the Lions, perhaps the Birds would be able to entertain some offers and move down.
The consensus seems to be that this is not a top-heavy draft, so trades into the top-five seem unlikely, but as always, it only takes one team willing to pull the trigger.