We have some very intersting news today, courtesy of NFL draft analyst Tony Pauline:
Interesting visit: DeMarcus Milliner/CB/Alabama on an official trip to see the Indianapolis Colts today...— Tony Pauline (@TonyPauline) April 10, 2013
Milliner is figured to be a top ten overall pick in the draft. He is at the top of pretty much everybody's cornerback prospect list. Here is his scouting report from NFL.com:
STRENGTHS Owns sufficient height, length, and upper-body strength to fight with pro receivers over the middle or down the sideline. Capable of getting a solid punch at the line of scrimmage in press and the quick feet to stay with his man down the field after contact. Lines up receivers in the open field for the big hit. Displays the hip fluidity to open up to stay with deep routes or drop into his zone, while also possessing the foot quickness to stop-start on cut-off routes and on attempted double-moves. Very fluid hips, changes directions easily and clicks his feels to drive on the ball in a flash. Straight-line speed is also impressive, and will use it to hustle across the field when he's uncovered. Also translates to closing speed when playing off his man or attacking plays in the backfield. Makes the easy interception, but also has the vertical and strong hands to win jump balls against larger receivers. Keeps outside leverage in the run game, forcing plays inside. Violent hand help him rip off receiver blocks. Knows defensive concepts, and playing for Saban gives him a huge step up in more advanced pattern-reading principles. Directs linebackers on combination coverage outside. Flashes the physicality to wrap up ball carriers and drive them to the ground.
WEAKNESSES Stout running backs and physical receivers can run through his tackles, and he has a tendency to leave his feet and lunge. He should continue to get stronger, but needs to break down more consistently to get leverage. Dives at the feet of ballcarriers regularly, can be eluded in space. Doesn't always land heavy hands on his man at the line of scrimmage when required, but his recovery speed usually makes up for it. Played on a loaded defense, pro quarterbacks will challenge his coverage at the next level. Like all Saban cornerbacks, he was not taught or asked to backpedal in college, and will need to develop new technique and footwork. Can lose track of the ball in the air and will mistime his plays on the ball.
NFL COMPARISON Carlos Rogers
BOTTOM LINE Overshadowed by his high-profile teammates like fellow corner Dre Kirkpatrick over the span of two seasons, Milliner has made plays when given the chance (six interceptions, 38 pass break-ups in three years starting). He is ready to use his pro-ready size, athleticism and change-of-direction ability to become a household name in the NFL after winning back-to-back BCS Championships at Alabama. Milliner's role grew extensively as a junior, and he showed the skills to be a first-round pick in the NFL.
Milliner is a top ten pick. The Colts don't pick until number 24. So why in the world would the Colts use an official visit on the Alabama cornerback? Is a trade up in the works?
Possibly - but probably not in the way many of you are thinking.
I think that much of this is just the Colts doing their due diligence and looking at one of the draft's best players who happens to play a position of need for the Colts. They have to know that there is no way Milliner falls to them at 24. None. Zero. So in order for them to have any interest in Milliner, it would have to include trading up to get him. Many of you will start speculating how much it would take to get into the top ten. I wouldn't bother. My guess is that the Colts are looking at Milliner in the case that he starts to slide a bit. Not into the 20s, but after the 9th, 10th, 11th pick... the Colts want to make sure they're ready. I believe that the Colts will be watching Milliner very closely and, if he starts to fall, Ryan Grigson will have the phone to his ear trying to work out a trade. Again, this is nothing but my own opinion, but I highly doubt the Colts would be willing to give up that much to get into the top ten, and I also don't believe that they would just waste a visit on a player they have no chance of taking.
That is why I think that this is just a visit to figure out for sure how good Milliner really is and evaluate when they should try to trade up for him if the situation were to arise in which he started to slide.
I have been a big advocate of them trading back and out of the first round, and now there is speculation that they made trade up in the first round. I still think their best option is to do the former, but if the Colts truly believe that Milliner is special, then it is worth it. Again, I have nothing against getting a real good player like Dee Milliner to play corner. I'd love it. But the Colts just have to be certain that it is worth it. That's why they're bringing him in for a visit.
They want to make sure they're ready for anything on draft day. And that's smart.
ADDITIONAL NOTE: Tony Pauline also tweeted this about some other Colts' visits:
Also; Sheldon Price/CB/UCLA is also visiting the Indianapolis Colts today...— Tony Pauline (@TonyPauline) April 10, 2013
Stefan Charles/DL/Regina visiting the Indianapolis Colts next week....too much Colts today- not enough Regina....— Tony Pauline (@TonyPauline) April 10, 2013