Editor's Note: In our annual 32-picks-in-32-days NFL mock draft, CSNPhilly's Ron Burke, Jared Sherman, Rob Kuestner and Geoff Mosher (in that order) will rotate making one pick per day.
4. Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama (6-1, 197)
For the record, it would seem smart, sensible and very feasible for the Eagles to trade down from No. 4 overall, especially with Geno Smith, Eric Fisher and the draft’s best pass-rushing prospects still on the board.
The draft is deep enough at corner and safety to get a good one of each late in the first or in the second round. They could also move down a few spots and still get offensive tackle Lane Johnson or guard Jonathan Cooper and add some picks.
Personnel people and draftniks universally agree that this year’s class, while short on superstar talent at the skill positions, is rich with solid prospects on both lines and in the secondary. The Eagles have nine overall picks but just one in each of the first five rounds and four in the seventh. It’s in their best interests to trade down from fourth overall -- even just a few spots -- and try to add another pick in the second or third rounds.
But since we can’t accurately (or even inaccurately) forecast trades in our CSN Mock Draft, the Eagles will stick at four and take a prospect who not only is the best available on the board but also someone the Eagles desperately need.
Milliner, easily the most coveted cornerback in the draft and a prospect who has been described as “special,” brings to the Eagles what they’ve lacked for several years at cornerback: toughness, outstanding instincts and elite coverage skills. Despite the free-agent additions of corners Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher, Milliner could start from Day 1 and become the building block of new coordinator Billy Davis’ defense.
Milliner was a standout on a supreme defense that keyed Alabama’s run to consecutive BCS titles. At 6-feet and 200 pounds, he has ideal size and strength for the position and to shine in man-press coverage that aggressive-blitzing teams usually play. Davis said he wants to field an “attacking” defense that gets after the quarterback and creates turnovers. The concern about Milliner having the top-end speed to patrol the highway against the NFL’s fastest receivers was seemingly answered when he clocked a 4.37 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, second-fastest among corners.
Milliner recently had shoulder surgery to repair a labrum and some scouts have wondered if his overall athleticism is top notch, but the Eagles had two tremendously gifted athletes playing corner last year and fielded one of the NFL’s worst pass defenses. If they stick at No. 4, Milliner is a no-brainer.