With the NFL draft only weeks away, the Detroit Lions are preparing for the last significant opportunity to improve their roster before the kickoff of the 2013 season.
The Lions have surprised with some of their selections over the last few years and predicting which direction they take may not be an exact science.
Before the draft (April 25-27), we take a look at the most likely candidates the Lions could select in round one. Today, we evaluate Dee Milliner.
Dee Milliner, Cornerback, Alabama
Why the Lions Would Be Interested
Milliner is the consensus pick as the top cornerback in the draft and is the only defensive back the Lions could consider at five. At just under six-feet tall and weighing 201 pounds, Milliner has decent size for the position.
He's a smart player that would fit perfectly into a secondary that features safety Louis Delmas and cornerback Chris Houston – two players apt to adjustments in game and real time communication. He can play zone and man coverage and would help solidify the Lions secondary in a division that features quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler.
All of the above is sure to perk the Lions interest but it would be meaningless without Milliner's physicality. The 21-year-old cornerback does not shy from contact and can maneuver through traffic to find a ball carrier – something that the Lions covet at the position.
The icing on the cake is that Milliner also has solid intangibles and could develop into a locker room leader for the team.
Why the Lions Would Pass
There are only two deterrents from drafting Milliner. First, despite all of the positive attributes he offers, he is not a top-end playmaker. Registering only two interceptions in 2012, Milliner demonstrated he can locate the ball and break up a play but won't always come down with it himself.
In addition, the Lions may have more pressing needs on the roster at positions that traditionally carry more value than cornerback, namely defensive end and offensive tackle.