The New York Jets made one of the most publicized moves of the offseason when they traded cornerback Darrelle Revis to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Revis is almost unanimously considered the best corner in the NFL, and while he did force his way out of New York, it is still highly unusual to see a player who is that good at his age be traded.
The Jets went into the draft having to replace Revis, and they chose Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner 9th overall. Milliner plays in a similar to style to Revis, using his size and speed to great effect in bump and run coverage. Many fans see Milliner as Revis’ replacement, which he technically is. However, it would be a huge mistake to expect Milliner to replace Revis’ production right away.
Of course, the fact that the Jets are playing Revis and the Bucs in Week 1 does not help matters. Fair or not, Milliner’s performance will be quickly contrasted with Revis’ as they alternate series. Milliner will likely spend the bulk of the game covering wideout Mike Williams, who is one of the better young receivers in league.
Milliner has the talent to hold his own in this matchup, but he is not going to be a Revis Island type of player right out of the gate. Even Revis himself was far from a lockdown corner his rookie season, and Jets fans need to remember that and temper their expectations. Milliner was injured for much of camp and is still learning the playbook and the NFL game. He needs more time and reps to develop.
Milliner has the natural talent to become one of the elite corners in the NFL. However, that is not going happen this season. Unfortunately, playing against Revis in Week 1 puts a huge amount of pressure on Milliner to immediately prove he is a worthy replacement. Jets fans need to remember that it is Milliner’s first game, and his performance in it will have little bearing on the player he will eventually become.