Dee Milliner shows off his speed at combine

ASSOCIATED PRESS Alabama's Dee Milliner runs the 40 at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Alabama's Dee Milliner runs the 40 at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
Posted: February 28, 2013

DEE MILLINER brought the goods, just as he'd predicted he would when he met with reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine Sunday.

NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said Sunday the big question about Milliner, the Alabama cornerback considered best at his position in the draft, was his "long speed." Milliner tore up the turf at Lucas Oil Stadium Tuesday in Indianapolis with an unofficial 4.31 40, officially logged at 4.37, buttressing his assertion Sunday that anyone who doubted his athleticism should "watch the NFL Combine."

This was good news for some Eagles fans, who have unofficially adopted Milliner as their favorite prospect after an exasperating cornerback interlude with Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha. But nearly 2 months before the draft, we're still a long way from the Eagles' taking Milliner fourth overall.

Mayock declared Tuesday, "Milliner, we know what he is now," but that might not be entirely true. Maybe Mayock's only concern was long speed, but Milliner intercepted only two passes last season, and doesn't seem to have great ball skills, as was apparent in the drills after the 40. And running the 40 quickly doesn't mean you have great coverage instincts. Milliner, 6-0, 201, played a super-aggressive style at Alabama, didn't really backpedal and drop the way NFL corners have to much of the time.

He's certainly a more viable option at No. 4, looming shoulder surgery and all, than he was before Tuesday, but the real top value there might still be an offensive or defensive lineman. Milliner could increase the allure of that fourth pick if another team covets him and the Eagles want to move down and add a pick or two, which seems like a pretty good idea, given the range of their needs.

"I could have had [the surgery] right after the [national championship] game, but I felt the need that I had to come out and do something," Milliner said Sunday. "I ain't just want to sit out the combine and my pro day, and then y'all guys get to wonderin', sayin' this and that. I wanted to come out and at least showcase that I can still move around, I can run, and I can swing my arm around."

Wonder whether Deion Sanders, on the field doing interviews with participants for NFL Network Tuesday, knew that on Sunday, Milliner talked about how much he revered Sanders, and added that "old people" in his family knew Sanders?

Milliner gets props for working out in Indy and delaying the labrum surgery, which doesn't seem to be a big deal. He is scheduled to have it on March 12, and said he should be sidelined only 2 months.

Speaking of needs, it's great for the Eagles that this is such a deep safety class, a point made repeatedly during Tuesday's DB drills. The Eagles won't take one in the first round unless they trade down, but if they get through the second and third rounds without adding a safety, it'll be a huge upset.

Camp concerns

Joe Sterrett, athletic director at Lehigh, said Tuesday the school hasn't heard whether the Eagles will be holding training camp there this year, as they have every year since 1996.

Buzz around the combine held that new coach Chip Kelly might not want to continue that tradition. Kelly, asked about it last week, said he hadn't had time to think about camp yet. Then he told a story about winning at Lehigh the last time he was there, as the New Hampshire coach.

If the Eagles moved camp to NovaCare, which is how a lot of teams do it now, they would not be able to accommodate the public the way they traditionally have at Lehigh. Of course, they could hold fan events at Lincoln Financial Field, similar to their "Flight Night."

On Twitter: @LesBowen


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