When the New York Jets traded star cornerback Darrelle Revis, they made sure to get his replacement right away, drafting Alabama corner Dee Milliner with the 9th overall pick. Milliner was an outstanding collegiate player, and he projected to become an elite cover corner.
Milliner, however, has had a rough start to his NFL career. He missed much of training camp with a shoulder injury, and it showed in Week 1, when Mike Williams of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat him several times, including for a touchdown. Things only went downhill from there for Milliner, who struggled mightily against the New England Patriots and was benched in the second half.
Milliner spent a large chunk of the game on Julian Edelman, who is a very difficult matchup for him. Slot receivers are notoriously difficult to cover man-to-man, because they weave through traffic in the middle of the field and pop out open on the other side. Physical corners like Milliner can’t get their hands on them, and that is why they are left chasing them.
Edelman got a few catches in on Milliner, though Milliner did have one excellent play where he stripped Edelman on a slant route. The play was originally ruled a fumble then reserved to an incompletion (incorrectly, I might add). Milliner also spent some time on the outside receivers, but he was beaten by Kenbrell Thompkins on a deep ball that was originally ruled a touchdown then reserved to an incompletion (that one was correct).
Milliner was bailed out on several occasions by the repeated drops of Patriot wide receivers, and it made him look a little better than he was. He was beaten far too often yesterday, and he could lose his starting job. Milliner is still adjusting the NFL game, and he will learn that professional receivers are too good for him to be sneaking looks into the backfield or missing a jam at the line of scrimmage.
I still believe Milliner is going to be an excellent player. After all, we are talking about a rookie who has played two games. However, he is struggling with the adjustment, and it would be no surprise to see him lose some playing time. Milliner will be fine, but he needs more time to learn how to handle the NFL game.