(The opinions and analysis contained in this feature are those of the author and others credited and do not necessarily represent the thoughts and opinions of the Seahawks’ coaching staff and personnel department)
Some things never change. Just look at Dee Milliner. He is entering the NFL Draft the same way he entered the University of Alabama – as the top-ranked cornerback available.
That was Milliner coming out of Stanhope Elmore High School in Millbrook, Ala., where he not only started as a freshman but returned his first interception in his first start 40 yards for a touchdown. That is Milliner coming out of Alabama, where he also started as a true freshman and was an All-American last season.
“I have only one corner with a first-round grade,” said Mike Mayock, draft analyst for the NFL Network.
One guess who that corner is. And Milliner wasn’t about to dispute Mayock’s evaluation at the NFL Scouting Combine in February.
Asked if he felt he was the best cornerback in the draft, Milliner went that one better, offering, “Yeah, very much. You’ve always got to have confidence in the plays that you can make, your ability that you have. I feel like I am the best DB in all of this. No offense to all the other DBs, I just believe in what I can do and all the plays I can make.”
Here are some other highlights from Milliner’s Q&A session with the media at the combine:
Q: What separates you from the other cornerbacks in this draft class?
A: “Just my mentality as a football player. My toughness. The physical (nature) that I play with, it’s just different from some cornerback in today’s league.”
Q: With Nick Saban’s history as a defensive backs coach, what did you learn from your head coach at Alabama?
A: “The way coach Saban coaches, he teaches you different things – not just watching films and different things. He’s the one that gets you right for game day. He teaches you lessons and values that you need on the field and off the field, just helps you all around as a coach.”
Q: In terms of your style, how do you think you compare with former Alabama cornerbacks Dre Kirkpatrick (a first-round pick by the Bengals last year) and DeQuan Menzie (a fifth-round pick by the Chiefs last year)?
A: “I think we compare. We’re alike because we come from the same style under coach Saban. You know you have to be a hardnosed, physical player at the line of scrimmage and come up in run support. You’ve just got to be able to do different things – all three of us – different things because we’re different people. You’ve just got to go out there and always just make plays and create an identity for ourselves.”
Q: Who are the current NFL cornerbacks you watch?
A: “I’ve got a lot. You’ve got to watch today’s cornerbacks. (The Cardinals’) Pat Peterson, that’s a young guy that I think is going to be the next – one of the great DBs. (The Broncos’) Champ Bailey, (the Jets’) Darrelle Revis when he does come back. Now (the Seahawks’ Richard) Sherman, you’ve got to watch him because he’s one of the headhunters that’s doing good in today’s football. I wish Deion (Sanders) was playing so I could watch him. But you know, I still look at his tapes on YouTube. I’ve got old people in my family that knew him, saw him play, so I always go around them and ask them about him.”
Q: How important is confidence to being a great corner?
A: “That’s a must. You’ve always got to have confidence as a cornerback. And not only as a cornerback, that’s any position on the field. If you’ve got confidence, have faith in what you can do, believe you’re going to go out and do that, you’ll follow that direction.”