Jets Raise Hope with Dee Milliner, Then Dash It with Sheldon Richardson

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Jets Raise Hope with Dee Milliner, Then Dash It with Sheldon Richardson
Photos via Getty Images.

With so many holes to fill on their roster, there weren't too many mistakes the New York Jets could make in the first round.

Adding Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner at No. 9 was a wise move—and let's just end the "replacing Darrelle Revis" narrative right now before it gets way out of control.

On the other hand, whether drafting Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson was a mistake or not, we won't know until a few years down the road, but right now, it's fair to question the pick.

Milliner is an agreeable pick. There's almost no chance he is asked to line up against a team's No. 1 receiver next year—Antonio Cromartie did just fine in that role when Revis went down. Thus, it will be a battle between Milliner and fourth-year cornerback Kyle Wilson for the starting role on the other side. Whoever loses that battle will likely fill the slot role.

Milliner has ideal size to match up with NFL receivers at just under 6'0" and weighing 201 pounds. There's no questioning his speed after running a 4.37 40-yard dash at the combine, but that was evident on tape well beforehand. He has versatility to play both man and zone coverages, and the only potential holes in his game are questionable hands and lack of experience backpedaling.

Concerns about Milliner's injury history are overblown. The cornerback had surgery to repair a posterior labrum tear, a problem which reared its head a few times. He was able to play through it, though, and didn't miss a game.

There's no reason to think those injuries will be a problem going forward, and he should be ready for the start of training camp (via NFL.com).

Richardson is a disruptive interior presence on the defensive line, with a high motor and experience against elite competition in the SEC. 

He is not a dominant run-stuffing defensive tackle, as seen against Alabama. Where he excels is getting pressure up the middle. His numbers weren't elite—he had 18.5 tackles for loss and six sacks over the past two seasons at Missouri—but he is explosive off the snap, and has surprisingly light feet for a 6'4", 295-pound man.

One of the keys to beating the Patriots is to get pressure on quarterback Tom Brady with a good rush up the middle, which eliminates his ability to step up in the pocket.

That being said, the Jets just drafted defensive ends Quinton Coples and Muhammad Wilkerson over the past two years. How many 3-4 defensive ends do the Jets plan on putting on the field? How many talented outside linebackers are currently on the Jets roster? 

Chart via Sam Monson, Pro Football Focus.

Richardson could be used as a 3-technique lining up over the guard. Coples is at his best as a 5-technique defensive end, and Wilkerson has played that spot for much of the past two seasons. In theory, they could move Wilkerson to the 1-technique, but he was arguably the second-best 5-technique defensive end in the AFC last year behind the Texans' J.J. Watt.

The Jets are going to have to get creative if they want to maximize Richardson's potential, and they still need to find players who can create pressure off the edge. 

Either way, it's clear the objective was to improve a defense that gave up the second-fewest passing yards and allowed the seventh-lowest passer rating in the NFL last year. That strategy leaves them with major questions in other areas.

 

Erik Frenz is also a Patriots/AFC East writer for Boston.comFollow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless otherwise noted, all stats obtained from Pro-Football-Reference.com, and all quotes obtained firsthand or via team press releases.

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