By Ernie Palladino
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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. Jets general manager John Idzik made sure he grabbed him quick with the ninth pick overall Thursday.
Technically, we can’t say the Jets turned the 13th overall pick they got from Tampa Bay in the Revis trade into his replacement. But the effect is the same. In taking the 6-foot, 201-pound coverman out of Alabama, the Jets basically got the guy they hope will make everybody forget about the Pro Bowler they refused to pay.
Milliner may turn out to be just that guy if Combine times mean anything. His 4.31 clocking his first time out of the box in the 40 was the fastest out there, and the 4.37 on his second dash wasn’t too shabby, either. Put that together with last year’s totals of 22 breakups, 51 tackles, two interceptions, and 1 ½ sacks for a national championship team, and Milliner appears to be the real thing.
They obviously thought long and hard about this one, as it took them all but 40 seconds of their 10-minute allotment to pull the trigger. But it was fairly obvious early on that Milliner would be there if Idzik wanted him. The top of the draft was one that would have put a smile on the late Giants general manager George Young’s face, as four offensive linemen and three defensive ends went in the first seven picks. “The Dance of the Elephants,” Young always called the time in every draft where a cluster of teams elect to take their big men.
Pachyderm Prom Night was more like it. The Rams finally broke the string with West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin in a trade-up with the Bills. Milliner fell right into the Jets’ laps.
Now they just have to hope he’s healthy enough for training camp following offseason shoulder surgery. But he’s got all the pluses going in — strong hands, strength, leaping ability to go up against taller receivers, and speed.
Setting him out in man-to-man coverage (Milliner’s Island?) won’t be a problem, according to the player. “Right up my alley,” he said. And confidence is no problem, either. About the prospects of facing the likes of Tom Brady twice a year, he said, “I hope I get my hands on a couple of his balls and take them back.”
Gotta love the confidence. Now all the Jets need is the performance.
They took even longer to turn the No. 13 pick — the one Tampa Bay gave them for Revis — into Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson. Not a horrible pick there, either. He’s light on his feet for a 6-2, 294-pounder. He can help the run defense, and his conference-high 10 ½ tackles behind the line and 4 ½ sacks shows he can penetrate.
They could have traded out of either pick, as Idzik indicated they had offers for both. Or they could have taken an offensive player like, oh, quarterback Geno Smith. But why destroy Mark Sanchez’s brain anymore than they already have?
So the Jets went defense-defense. They’ll deal with the offense in the upcoming rounds.
No biggie. This is one draft where picking any position was the right choice. That’s just a statement on the myriad holes on both sides of the ball. No one player was going to fix this team, anyway.
But at least they addressed the abyss-like hole the created when they shipped off their Pro Bowl cornerback.
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