Dee Milliner might have the toughest job in the NFL this year in following up Darrelle Revis.
For those just catching up, Revis was traded by the New York Jets to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in return for draft picks. This was after Revis tore his ACL in September of last season and expressed his desire for a very large new contract.
We can argue whether Revis is the best corner in the league, but he was certainly the best corner in the AFC East and absolutely the best on the Jets. His absence could have a big impact on their defense this year.
That brings us to Milliner, far and away the best corner prospect in the 2013 NFL draft this year (particularly with D.J. Hayden’s health issues).
Is that enough, though? It’s one thing to be good, or even great, but Revis was beyond those labels.
We cannot expect Milliner to shut down elite wide receivers the way Revis did (we’ll see if he still can post-ACL injury), but he is good enough to hang with them and cover them.
On top of that, I have never been a big fan of Revis’ tackling ability. Yes, the Jets didn’t ask him to blitz or contain the run for the most part, but he still needed to get his hands dirty and too often seemed to lack the overall skill, strength and polish that was a hallmark of the rest of his game.
Now, in a different defense, perhaps Revis shines as a tackler. But during his time in New York, he fell short.
If there is one thing you can say Milliner might have over Revis, it’s that he is an outstanding tackler.
Of course, that’s not what he’ll have to do to replace Revis, and he’s going to face some stiff competition from receivers like Mike Wallace, Steve Johnson, Julio Jones, Roddy White, A.J. Green and Marques Colston.
And that’s just before their Week 10 bye.
It’s a tough schedule, and while he’ll get help from Antonio Cromartie (who really stepped up last season), the spotlight (and criticism) will be directed at the rookie.