The Miami Dolphins finished the 2012-13 season ranked 27th in the league in passing defense with much thanks to a poor core of cornerbacks. They finished the season at 7-9, mainly due to their lack of ability to shut down the opponent's passing game.
Against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 4, the Dolphins were up by a touchdown with under a minute to go. They let up a deep touchdown pass from Kevin Kolb to Andre Roberts on 4th-and-12 to allow the game to go into overtime. The Dolphins would lose.
They allowed Andrew Luck to throw for more yards in a single game than any other rookie quarterback in NFL history.
The current cornerback situation in Miami just isn't cutting it.
Sean Smith is set to become a free agent, and it is unclear whether or not he will be retained by the Dolphins. The rest of the depth at the position is below average. Richard Marshall, Bryan McCann and Nolan Carroll are not a recipe for success.
Enter Dee Milliner. Alabama's cornerback is the best defensive back available in the upcoming draft on my board.
NFL Draft analyst Dane Brugler of CBS Sports offers this scouting report on Milliner:
"STRENGTHS: Built well for the position. Plays with excellent coordination and smooth hips, using his arms and hands to knock down throws. Excellent awareness and read/react ability, getting his head turned and uses his eyes well to quickly find the ball.
Attacks the run and is a very good tackler, never backing down. He is a bruising hitter and does a nice job separating ball from receiver with terrific timing. Plays tight bump-and-run and enjoys pressing with little cushion. Closes quickly and baits throws, looking to make a play on each snap.
Smart and disciplined, but not shy about coming off his man to make a play. Physical striker and does a nice job avoiding blocks while keeping his eye on the ball. He processes information quickly and looks comfortable in space.
WEAKNESSES: Lacks elite speed and quick-twitch ability. Plays too aggressive at times and will take himself out of the play, missing some tackles. Has just one full season as a starter. Needs to refine some of his cover technique, most notably his backpedal.
COMPARES TO: Charles Tillman, CB, Chicago Bears -- Similar size and ballhawking ability when the ball is in the air."
-- Dane Brugler
I take from Brugler's scouting report that Milliner could not only make things better in the passing game, but could also help contribute to the already-stellar run-defense in Miami.
I originally stated that I thought the Dolphins would take a receiver with their first-round draft pick in April. While I think Keenan Allen has the potential to be a great player, I don't see how they can pass up on a guy like Milliner given his availability.
Ever since the Dolphins drafted Ted Ginn Jr. with the ninth pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, they have been scared to use early draft picks on wide receivers. That simple fact leads me to believe they won't change recent patterns in this draft.
There are plenty of wide receivers available in this draft that the Dolphins could draft later on.
Cornerback and wide receiver are the two main issues the Dolphins need to address in the offseason. The potential of Milliner in my opinion, outweighs the potential of any receiver in this draft.
DeAndre Hopkins, Tavon Austin and Cordarrelle Patterson could be available when the Dolphins draft in the second round. There isn't a guarantee Milliner will be available where they will draft now.
In fact, I am so confident that Milliner would help pave the way to a better future in the Dolphins' pass-defense, that I would say they should swap first-round picks with the Buffalo Bills.
The Bills currently hold the eighth pick in the draft. They went out and acquired Doug Marrone from Syracuse to fill their vacant head coaching position. That leads me to believe the Bills, who need a quarterback, will take Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib in the first round of the draft.
If the Bills swap picks with the Dolphins, it would almost ensure the Dolphins would get Milliner, and it would also allow the Bills to get a little more when they draft Nassib.
Nassib will certainly be available at the position where the Dolphins are drafting (No. 12).
The Miami Dolphins are included in my list of NFL teams on the rise. Adding Milliner to the squad will bump them up that much more. They would be wise to draft him.