This is the seventh in a 20-part series examining some possibilities for the Browns in the 2013 NFL Draft, including extensive looks at the most likely prospects for the No. 6 overall selection, potential targets later in the draft, trade-down scenarios, what the other teams in the AFC North might do and the top players coming out of Ohio State and the Mid-American Conference.
Each morning will bring a new, daily posting leading up the NFL Scouting Combine on Feb 20.
Today, we continue with the best defensive back in the draft, a cornerback from Alabama who's used to being at the top of the rankings.
Dee Milliner, Alabama, junior
Height/weight: 6-foot-1, 198 pounds.
2012 stats: 54 tackles, 18 passes defended, two interceptions.
Current overall prospect ranks: NFLDraftScout.com: 5th; Scouts Inc: 8th; ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr: 6th; ESPN's Todd McShay: 9th.
Current projected draft position: NFLDraftScout.com's Dane Brugler has Milliner going to the Browns with the 6th pick. Rob Rang, from the same website, has him falling to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the No. 13 pick. McShay has Milliner going 7th overall to the Detroit Lions (McShay still hasn't reordered his mock draft. The Lions are now picking one spot ahead of the Browns at No. 5). Kiper has Milliner going the highest, No. 4 overall to Philadelphia.
Overview: A five-star recruit in high school and the No. 1 cornerback in the country according to Scout.com before heading to Alabama, Milliner is familiar with topping the rankings in his class at his position. Entering the draft, that's still true. He played in 13 games as a freshman and 12 as a sophomore in nickel and dime situations, and stepped into a starting role last year as a junior. His 18 pass breakups were third in the nation, and Milliner was named a First Team All-American and a Jim Thorpe Award finalist.
What they're saying: At 6-foot-1, Milliner has terrific length for a cornerback and is built well for his position. ... Excellent awareness and read/react ability, getting his head turned for the ball. ... Recognizes routes and anticipates breaks. ... Reacts quickly when defending the run as well. ... Is a very good tackler for a cornerback. ... Plays tight bump-and-run coverage. ... Has good range and closing burst to excel in a zone-heavy scheme. ... Physical and knows how to run receivers off their routes. ... Above average footwork, always looks comfortable. ... Has above-average speed but lacks elite top-end speed and quick-twitch ability. ... Needs to refine his backpedal. ... Can play too aggressive at times, taking himself out of the play.
NFLDraftScout.com player comparison: Charles Tillman, CB, Chicago Bears.
Why he fits the Browns' needs: Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton has said his 3-4 multi-front defense will resemble Pittsburgh's, an aggressive, blitzing scheme that values cornerbacks who can be put on an island. And cornerback emerged as a serious need during the past season opposite Joe Haden. Sheldon Brown will turn 34 in March and when Dimitri Patterson, who was released during the season, or Buster Skrine had to step into an expanded role due to injury or suspension, opposing quarterbacks zeroed in on either one. Milliner is a cornerback with excellent size and awareness to play opposite Haden. There are plenty of pass rushers who might fit into Horton's 3-4 defense, but if the quick release of defensive end Frostee Rucker shows anything, it's that Horton wants to find his type of players. If none of the pass rushers projected to go in the top 10 fit the mold he's looking for (or if Jarvis Jones' health doesn't check out), Milliner would then be the best defensive option on the board.