(Third in a series looking at the Detroit Lions’ positional needs for the NFL draft which begins on Thursday. Today cornerbacks.)
A Las Vegas bookmaker put the odds of cornerback Dee Milliner getting drafted in fifth overall — the Detroit Lions spot — as 15/2.
Still don’t count out the Alabama cornerback as a possibility for the Lions who always seem to be hurting when it comes to healthy defensive backs.
In a mock draft released Monday, ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper has the Lions drafting Milliner. Gil Brandt of NFL.com agrees with Kiper.
In the cornerback class for this 2013 NFL draft that begins Thursday night, there is MIlliner and then there is everyone else.
“I hear people, over the years, have always said you need a corner that’s big with some speed and some coverage ability who is good at the line and is a smart guy that can play nickel and play outside and maybe move into safety,’’ Mayhew said. “OK, where is that guy? You know, there’s like five of them in the history of the NFL, you know? (Milliner) brings some of those traits to the table, I think.”
MIlliner impressed at the NFL Combine, running a 4.37 40-yard dash. He is big at 6-foot and 201 pounds and played in the SEC. Reports from the Philadelphia Inquirer this week say he might not be ready for the start of training camp following shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum.
As far as need, the Lions re-signed Chris Houston, one of their best moves of the offseason.
The Lions drafted three cornerbacks last year — Bill Bentley, Chris Greenwood and Jonte Green. Greenwood was injured in May and never saw a snap. Bentley earned the starting role but after he injured a shoulder in the preseason he couldn’t fight through it and was shut down for surgery. Green got the most playing time because there was no one left.
“Greenwood is probably the most physically talented in that group, he’s got that size and speed that we were talking about that elusive big corner we’ve been trying to find. He’s got all that, but he went to a smaller school (Albion) to get some development. Bentley came in and from day one was head and shoulders above the other two, performed at a very high level and was going to be a starter for us. He would have probably started 16 games if it weren’t for that shoulder. But he’s a very, very good player. Very talented, very quick and has some play-making skills on the ball,’’ Mayhew said. “He’s got some man-cover skills, has played some inside so he brings a lot to the table. Then obviously Jonté Green had more starts than anyone of those guys. So all three of those guys are good players and we expect them to be around for a long time.”
If the Lions draft an offensive tackle or defensive end with their first-round pick, they could look for cornerback help in later rounds.
Along with MIlliner, they brought in three other corners for pre-draft visits — David Amerson (North Carolina State), Darius Slay (Mississippi State) and Rashaan Melvin (Northern Illinois).
Second-round possibilities include Xavier Rhodes (Florida State), Desmond Trufant (Washington), Jamar Taylor (Boise State), D.J. Hayden (Houston) and Johnthan Banks (Mississippi State).
The Lions have a pick in each round with two picks in the seventh round. The NFL draft starts at 8 p.m. Thursday with the first round. It continues at 6:30 p.m. Friday with rounds two and three, and wraps up starting at noon Saturday with rounds four through seven.