Alabama's Dee Milliner Is the Pick for the Detroit Lions at No. 5 Overall

Andrew GardaFeatured ColumnistFebruary 26, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 26: Dee Milliner of the University of Alabama works out during the 2013 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 26, 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Dee Milliner should be the first pick for the Detroit Lions. End of story.

This isn't about the 40 time, though that certainly didn't hurt. No, this is about addressing a desperate need for the Lions with a player who is absolutely above anyone else available in his draft class.

Are there other needs? Sure. An outside linebacker or defensive end would be a big help. There are no running backs or wide receivers who I would take with that fifth pick. While I love Eric Fisher and Luke Joeckel, I think tackle is a lesser need than the secondary.

Now, if there was a knock on Milliner after Tuesday morning, it was that he dropped the ball a bunch in drills.

Of course, that could have to do with the torn labrum he's sporting, which will require him to have surgery shortly and skip many drills on his pro day.

Not that it's a long-term concern or something, which if it was, it should put the Lions (or their fans) off of selecting him.

Milliner also looked a bit stiff in the hips at times, but again, I mostly attribute that to pain and discomfort.

Now, he's not perfect and can get too aggressive at times.

But this is a guy who is a tremendous corner and far and above the best in the class. In fact, I would go so far as to say—at least from what I've watched—he's as good as any of the other corners to come out in the last few years, if not better.

The Lions are in trouble in the secondary. We don't know if Chris Houston will return. Dwight Bentley has potential, but it's not what Milliner has.

In the NFC North—heck, in the NFC overall—you need a great secondary. I would say this secondary is barely good, and that's with Houston.

Milliner is an instant improvement. Not only is he strong in coverage, he's a good tackler (though he does get a bit too aggressive there as well, if you count that as a bad thing) and solid in run defense as well.

There were questions about his speed coming into the combine, which is where the 40 time comes in. Now, the truth is, all it really should do is make you go back and look at the tape again.

I always felt he played more than fast enough, so for me it was never that big of a question mark. However, some analysts (and allegedly some teams) are now worried, so now it's time to go back to the tape and see if he really played that fast.

Part of the problem for the Lions in 2013 was a secondary that couldn't keep other teams off the board and sometimes left the offense in a hole that was tough to crawl out of.

Without a doubt, cornerback is my top need for the Lions. While there are many good players they could take with that No. 5 pick, Milliner is a big cut above the other corners in the draft and will be a huge difference-maker for whoever drafts him.

A few years ago, the Lions hesitated on moving up to get Patrick Peterson. They passed on safety Harrison Smith last year. In 2010, they left Eric Berry and Joe Haden on the board, though, admittedly, they grabbed Ndamukong Suh, so I would count that as a wash.

The point is, too many times the Lions have passed up on huge talent in the secondary and hoped a later pick would fill the need.

It isn't working. They cannot afford to let Milliner get away and miss out on a talented corner again.


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