Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner delayed surgery on a torn labrum in his right shoulder partly because he wanted to silence those who thought he lacked top-flight speed.
The decision paid off Tuesday as the NFL Scouting Combine wrapped up at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Milliner posted a time of 4.37 seconds in the 40-yard dash, finishing second among defensive backs and tying for sixth among all prospects.
“Anytime somebody doubts you, it’s like they get into it with you,” Milliner, the top-rated cornerback in this year’s draft, said Sunday at the combine. “So I like to go out when people say that, try to prove them wrong, try to go out there and make a big difference when they talk about me.”
The 6-foot, 201-pound Milliner also participated in the vertical jump (36 inches), broad jump (122 inches), three-cone drill (6.9 seconds) and the 20-yard shuttle (4.32 seconds). He didn’t bench press because of his shoulder, which he injured Nov. 10 against Texas A&M and will have repaired March 12.
Although Milliner struggled to catch the ball during position drills, he alleviated concerns about his speed. Before the combine, NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said if Milliner posted a sub-4.5 time in the 40, he would seal his fate as a top 10 pick in the draft, which will run April 25-27.
With Sheldon Brown’s contract set to expire March 12, the Browns are in the market for a starting cornerback opposite Joe Haden and could target Milliner with the sixth overall pick.
“It would give them two quality corners,” said former Browns General Manager Phil Savage, executive director of the Senior Bowl and a radio analyst for Alabama. “Nowadays, you need a third corner and a fourth corner because the ball is being thrown all over the lot. Is he going to be a successful pro? I absolutely think so.”
But Milliner might not be available for the Browns at No. 6. After his strong showing Tuesday, Milliner could go to the Detroit Lions at No. 5.
Milliner believes he’ll succeed no matter who drafts him.
“You’ve always got to have confidence in the plays that you can make, your ability that you have,” Milliner said. “I feel like I am the best DB in all of this. No offense to all them other DBs, just I believe in what I can do and all the plays that I can make.”
Browns running back Trent Richardson predicted Brandon Weeden would be the team’s starting quarterback next season during an interview Tuesday at the combine with NFL Network.
The Browns plan to acquire at least one other quarterback and hold a competition at the position, though Richardson’s bet is on Weeden.
“I think he’ll be my quarterback,” Richardson, the third overall pick in last year’s draft, told Mark Kriegel during an appearance on NFL AM. “We can’t put too much on Brandon, especially as a rookie. We can’t put too much on Brandon. We’ve got to make sure that he believes in us and make sure that he believes that we think, we know, that he’s going to be our quarterback. So when it comes to stuff like that, we’ve just all got to be behind Brandon.”
Richardson seemed to be alluding to something he told NFL Network’s Steve Wyche off camera after his interview with Kriegel. Wyche told Kriegel that Richardson really likes Weeden, but that he said Weeden had trouble reading defenses at times last season and that it limited what the Browns could do on offense.
Weeden, the 22nd overall pick in last year’s draft, drew criticism last season from some who believe he struggled to read defenses and see the field as plays developed. Former NFL quarterback Rich Gannon pointed out such flaws while serving as an analyst for CBS during the Browns’ 25-15 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 9.
Weeden, though, is confident he’ll improve as he transitions from former Browns coach Pat Shurmur’s West Coast offense to the vertical, downfield passing game employed by new Browns coach Rob Chudzinski and new offensive coordinator Norv Turner.
“It’s not only quarterback friendly, but they put a lot on the quarterback,” Weeden said Monday at the Cleveland Auto Show. “They expect a lot out of the quarterback, and they want you to be in full. As a quarterback, that’s what you want. You want to be decisive, and feel like when you’re making a throw, you’re confident in everything you’re doing.”
Weeden also said he welcomes competition and believes he’ll “absolutely” prevail against whomever the Browns bring in to face him this offseason.
Richardson added that he expects the Browns to make the playoffs next season, and he knows Chudzinski will rely on him to lead the way.
“He told me he’s going to put a big bunch on my back, and he expects me to run on with it,” Richardson said. “I told him, ‘Coach, I’m going to be in the best shape you know I can be and if you want me to be a leader this year, I’ll make sure I’ll be your team captain, a leader, whatever it takes to be that guy.’ ”
Former Browns President Mike Holmgren has talked to the Oakland Raiders about taking a leadership role with the organization, ESPN reported.
Holmgren is vacationing in Europe, but has already visited the Raiders to discuss the position, according to the report.
Leading the Raiders’ quest for a new stadium would reportedly be part of the job description.
Holmgren took charge of the Browns in January 2010 and left the team at the end of November after owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner seized control.
Michigan State cornerback Johnny Adams, an Akron native and Buchtel High School graduate, posted a time of 4.48 seconds in the 40 and bench pressed 225 pounds 16 times at the combine. NFLDraftScout.com projects Adams as a sixth- or seventh-round pick. … The Browns named Matt Goodman their vice president of corporate sponsorships, the team announced Tuesday. Goodman, a Dallas native, joins the Browns after serving as vice president of corporate hospitality for Madison Square Garden since 2009.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Browns blog at http://www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook www.facebook.com/browns.abj.