Strong Combine performance may have opened trade market to pick Dee Milliner

Joe Robbins

There are rumors that the Detroit Lions are already targeting Alabama CB Dee Milliner with the 5th pick and the Philadelphia Eagles could be soon to follow.

Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner entered the 2013 NFL Combine as the consensus top cornerback in the eyes of the media and did nothing but validate that ranking in Indianapolis. If there was a concern with his ability to be an elite corner, many questioned his top-end speed but he laid those questions to rest with 40-yard dash times of 4.31 and 4.37 seconds.

Suffering from a torn labrum that will require surgery after the Combine, Milliner's pre-draft process essentially began and ended in Indianapolis, as the surgery will withhold him from the Alabama Pro Day and will presumably keep him from participating in private workouts. But with an injury that will not threaten his long-term abilities and has a short recovery time, Milliner's draft stock shouldn't be hurt by the tear and, in effect, he will get to sit on top of the defensive back class.

On Monday, Sports Illustrated's Peter King tweeted that teams interested in Milliner would likely have to trade ahead of the Detroit Lions, owners of the fifth pick, to do so. That was before Milliner set the track on fire in the 40-yard dash. The owners of the fourth pick, the Philadelphia Eagles, could be in the market for a cornerback as well with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie set to hit free agency and Nnamdi Asomugha likely to be released.

I feel like I am the best DB in all of this. No offense to all them other DB's, I just believe in what I can do and all the plays that I can make. -Dee Milliner

The combination of need at cornerback coupled with the seemingly elite cornerback status of Milliner could spark some trade interest for teams like the San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, owners of the 11th, 12th and 13th picks, respectively, who each have needs at cornerback.

One such team that could interested in striking a trade with those teams could be the Jaguars, a team with several different options and no clear-cut player to target with the second overall selection. A trade down to acquire more picks could be the ideal scenario for a team that is set to rebuild and isn't entering 2013 with the expectation to win right away.

However, there are a few holes in the plan that may seem too good to be true. One such hole is that a cornerback, although considered an extremely valuable position and one that deserves early selections, hasn't been selected in the top four of the NFL Draft since Charles Woodson went to the Oakland Raiders with the fourth overall selection in the 1998 NFL Draft. A cornerback at second overall would be the earliest since Eric Turner was drafted by the Cleveland Browns with the second pick in the 1991 NFL Draft.

Another hole is that Milliner would have to be a very elite prospect to be worth a trade up to the second pick in the NFL Draft. So elite that the Jaguars would seem to be a little crazy to pass on him. Far from set at the position, an elite cornerback would certainly do the Jaguars some good, so a trade down could be a little illogical.

However, as previously noted, a trade down that adds picks could be a good strategy for a team that's looking to rebuild with patience.


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