Milliner, Mathieu scouting reports

Posted April 11, 2013 @ 1:48 p.m.
Posted By Nolan Nawrocki

The following scouting reports were taken from Pro Football Weekly's 2013 Draft Preview book, which is now on sale. You can order it today through the PFW Store, or by calling 1-800-FOOTBALL (Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT).

CB Dee Milliner, #28 (Junior)
Alabama
PFW Grade: 6.40
Ht: 5-117/8 | Wt: 201 | Sp: 4.38 | Arm: 32 | Hand: 8¾
Notes: Last name is pronounced “MILL-ner” and his given name is DeMarcus. The Alabama prep was a Parade All-American, a four-star prospect and ranked as one of top two cornerbacks in the country by the scouting services. Also used as a running back. Made an immediate impact as a true freshman in ’10 and earned Freshman All-America honors after posting 55 tackles, seven pass breakups and one interception with four tackles for loss and one forced fumble in 13 games (11 starts at right cornerback). Was used as the third cornerback in ’11 and made six starts in the nickel and dime packages, logging 27-9-3 with one tackle for loss in 13 games. Returned an interception 35 yards for a game-clinching score against Auburn. Was a finalist for both the Nagurski (defensive player of the year) and the Thorpe  (top defensive back) Awards and a unanimous first-team All-America selection in ’12 after recording 54-20-2 with four tackles for loss, 11⁄2 sacks, one forced fumble and one blocked field goal (Mississippi State) in 13 games (12 starts). As a precaution, he did not play against Western Kentucky because  of a slight groin strain. Scheduled to undergo surgery March 12th for a torn labrum in his right shoulder.
Positives: Excellent size and long arms. Outstanding combination of short-area explosion and top-end speed. Terrific balance, body control and coordination. Fluid and agile. Supple hips to transition and redirect smoothly. Mirrors receivers and seldom loses phase. Natural ballhawk (outstanding production). Supports the run aggressively. Physical tackler. Effective blitzer. Experience versus high-caliber receivers. Very confident and competitive. Smart, disciplined and well-coached. Is scheme-versatile and offers special-teams ability (gunner). Potential to extend career by moving to safety when he ages.
Negatives: Fairly small hands. Can learn to be more physical at the line. Lacks ideal twitch to play inside. Gets caught peeking in the backfield. At times struggles to locate the ball with his back to the throw. Could stand to use his hands better to disengage on the outside. Occasionally leaves his feet to tackle low and misses some. Let the ball beat him up repeatedly in Combine drills and has average career interception production (six picks). 
Summary: Well-built, rangy, instinctive, productive cornerback who has nearly everything you want in the position. Does not warrant grades on par with some of the historically elite cover men, but is a Day One starter with Pro Bowl potential. Pedigree and well-rounded skill set make for a comfortable lottery selection.
NFL projection: Top-10 pick. 

CB-RS Tyrann Mathieu, #7
ex-LSU
PFW Grade: 5.55
Ht: 5-8¾| Wt: 186 | Sp: 4.51 | Arm: 311/8 | Hand: 93/8
Notes: His name is pronounced “Ty-run Matthew.” The New Orleans native was one of the top prep cornerbacks in the country. Saw action in all 13 games (one start at left cornerback against ULM) as a true freshman in 2010 and made an immediate impact, racking up 57 tackles, seven pass breakups and two interceptions with 81⁄2 tackles for loss, six sacks and an SEC-leading five forced fumbles. Spent the season as a backup to Cardinals 2011 first-rounder Patrick Peterson. Piled up the awards in ’11 — was a unanimous first-team All-American, the Bednarik Award winner (nation’s top defensive player), SEC Defensive Player of the Year and a finalist for the Heisman Trophy — after recording 76-9-2 with 71⁄2 tackles for loss, 11⁄2 sacks and broke his own school record with six forced fumbles in 13 starts (12 at LCB and the Arkansas game at free safety). Also returned 27 punts for 421 yards (15.6-yard average) and two touchdowns — a 92-yard return vs. Arkansas and 62 yards against Georgia — plus recovered five fumbles, which led the nation, and returned two of them for touchdowns (three yards against Oregon, 23 yards vs. Kentucky). Violated the team’s drug policy and was suspended for the Auburn game. Was dismissed from LSU in August ’12 after repeated violations of school’s substance-abuse policy and was arrested in October for simple possession of marijuana. Was named a team captain at the end of 2011.
Positives: Innate ball skills — has a magnetic quality and exceptional playmaking ability. Terrific anticipation, timing and hand-eye coordination. Confidence of a cat burglar. Slot expertise. Excellent balance and body control. Transitions smoothly. Keen zone reactions. Plays bigger than his size — throws his weight around. Attacks ballcarriers like a terrier and tries to rip the ball out. Dangerous blitzer. Game-breaking punt returner — shows vision, wiggle and finishing ability. Worked as a gunner. Highly intense, aggressive and competitive. Thrives under the bright lights. Made an immediate impact as a true freshman at an elite program.
Negatives: High-maintenance character risk — habitual synthetic marijuana abuse forced dismissal. Maturity, trustworthiness and accountability need to be investigated thoroughly. Is unnervingly aloof and tone-deaf and has an overinflated sense of his ability. Lacks ideal height, length and top-end deep speed (relegates outside utility to the boundary). Average leaper.  Has man-coverage limitations. Unrefined technique. Prone to getting beat because of riverboat gambler mentality. Marginal weight-room strength — bench pressed 225 pounds just four times at the Combine. Durability is a concern. 
Summary:  A high-risk, high-reward wild card, Mathieu is a talented, cocksure slot defender and instinctive ballhawk capable of infusing a secondary with swagger and playmaking ability. Also has impact special-teams ability, making him a second-round football talent, though he has been rejected for character by some teams and must land in a veteran, policing locker room to remain on the straight and narrow and maximize his potential. Brings a Cortland Finnegan-type edge, and could appeal to teams such as the Rams, Cowboys or Lions. 
NFL projection: Second- to third-round pick.

These scouting reports were taken from Pro Football Weekly's 2013 Draft Preview book, which is now on sale. You can order it today through the PFW Store, or by calling 1-800-FOOTBALL (Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT).