It should never be up to a rookie to replace a legend—not, at least, if the organization is doing business right.
Thankfully for Dee Milliner and the New York Jets, that's not the case with regards to filling the void left by Darrelle Revis.
Instead, everyone on the Jets depth chart at cornerback simply gets knocked up a wrung. Easier said than done, but the job may be safer and freer of scrutiny in the hands of veteran Antonio Cromartie, who admirably filled the role of No. 1 cornerback last year in the wake of Revis' season-ending ACL injury.
Even still, Milliner didn't have to wait more than two minutes to face "replace Revis" questions at his first press conference as a Jet.
The misconceptions only continued from there. From the New York Daily News:
Dee Milliner is a cornerback, not a quarterback, but he will have more pressure on him than any rookie in the NFL in 2013. All he has to do is replace Darrelle Revis and allow Jets fans to forgive Woody Johnson for not wanting to pay up to keep the best corner in the NFL.
And more, from CBS New York:
Dee Milliner. Doesn’t sound like Darrelle Revis, does it? Lacks a certain ring and, right now, a certain set of credentials. But remember that name. For better or worse, he is the dearly departed cornerback’s successor.
A giant had been awoken.
Thankfully, defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman cleared the air on the whole thing within a few weeks of the draft.
While the questions were quickly put to bed, they should never have been awake in the first place.
Replacing Revis in 2012, Cromartie had his best season since putting up a league-leading 10 interceptions in 2007. Consider that he faced an opponent's top competition almost all season long, and it's shocking he gave up just 511 yards in coverage.
Could Milliner eventually be asked to replace Revis? Perhaps. After all, both Cromartie and Kyle Wilson are in the final two years of their respective contracts, and several other cornerbacks on the Jets' depth chart are entering contract years as well.
At least initially, though, Milliner and Wilson will compete for the right to take Cromartie's old spot as the No. 2—a competition that Milliner looks poised to win, as Wilson has been lining up at nickel cornerback at Jets mini-camp even with Milliner out.
Whoever fills that spot has big shoes to fill: Cromartie himself set a lofty standard for that spot.
As Cromartie could tell you—or, for that matter, anyone who has played the role of No. 2 cornerback opposite an elite shutdown cornerback—it's often the No. 2 that gets the most balls thrown their way. Cromartie was targeted more frequently on a per-snap basis in both years he played alongside Revis.
As such, if Cromartie is playing like he did last year, whoever is playing opposite him will be tested early and often.
Drafting Milliner was a move to aid the depth of the cornerback position, which was lacking even when Revis was a member of Gang Green.
Indeed, while drafting Milliner may have been perceived as a knee-jerk reaction to losing Revis, the only knee-jerk reaction was that very perception. Quite the contrary, this is an example of the Jets addressing a position that could be a need in the near future.
Erik Frenz is also a Patriots/AFC East writer for Boston.com. Unless otherwise noted, all stats obtained from Pro Football Focus' premium section, and all quotes obtained firsthand or via team press releases.
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