The next player to appear on the list of the top 25 New York Jets is cornerback Dee Milliner, whose rookie season struggles were one of the most talked about story lines for the Jets last season. Taken with the 9th overall pick, Milliner was supposed to provide a replacement at cornerback following the trade of Darrelle Revis. However, Milliner struggled for much of the season, causing many to doubt his future. Milliner rebounded nicely down the stretch though, and the Jets are expected him to take a major step forward this season.
The beginning of Milliner’s tenure with the Jets could not have been more difficult, as he was pretty much a disaster for the first 12 games. Milliner struggled with physical receivers, was late to react, and simply looked overwhelmed by the speed of the NFL game. He missed three games with injury and was benched in three more, and having missed a chunk of training camp due to a shoulder injury hindered his progress.
However, Milliner figured it out late in the season, and he played very good football in the final four games. Milliner was named AFC Defensive Rookie of the Month for December and won AFC Defensive Player of the Week in Week 17, which were great accomplishments considering how the season started.
With Antonio Cromartie off to the Arizona Cardinals, Milliner is now the unquestioned No. 1 corner in New York. That means that he is going to have cover the opposition’s best receiver on weekly basis, especially given the question marks that surround Dimitri Patterson, Kyle Wilson and Dexter McDougle. The Jets face six of the top 10 passing offenses from last season in the first seven weeks of the season, so there is going to be a ton of pressure on Milliner to perform. The Jets believe he is up to the challenge, and his play at the end of last season justifies that belief.
Milliner could not come in any higher on this list because his start to last season was so poor. However, he closed strong, and he could (and really should) be the Jets’ most improved player this season. If Milliner lives up to expectations, the Jets will be much better defensively. However, he can’t be ranked any higher on this list until he consistently performs. There is reason to believe he will be much better, but for now this is a fair spot to rank him based on his full body of work last season.
Previously: No. 25 Bilal Powell, No. 24 Kenrick Ellis, No. 23 Geno Smith, No. 22 Dawan Landry, No. 21 Jeff Cumberland, No. 20 Antonio Allen, No. 19 Quinton Coples, No. 18 Calvin Pryor, No. 17 Michael Vick, No. 16 Willie Colon