Detroit Lions will have several options at cornerback in the NFL Draft

Posted Feb 27, 2013

Tuesday's timing and drills for defensive backs at the NFL Scouting Combine showed the Lions that there are options beyond CB Dee Milliner at No. 5, with players that fit the profile from both a length and speed standpoint.

Indianapolis -- On Tuesday, Dee Millineranswered one nagging question still surrounding his game, when he posted an official 40-yard dash time of 4.37 seconds at the NFL Scouting combine. The impressive time solidified his position as the draft’s top cornerback and a likely top 10 pick.

"Everybody thought I was going to run slower, but I tried to tell them, I don't know why they thought I was slow,” Milliner told the NFL Network after his workout Tuesday.

Milliner will be in the conversation for the Lions at No. 5. They like all three of the rookies they drafted last year, and also have veteran Ron Bartell under contract, but could lose starters Chris Houston and Jacob Lacey via free agency.

Let's also not forget that if Milliner’s workout impressed the Lions, it also might have impressed the Eagles, who hold the No. 4 pick.

While Milliner stole most of the headlines down at the Combine, the cornerback group as a whole was impressive.

Lions general manager Martin Mayhew told reporters that he covets speed in his cornerbacks and is looking for players in the 4.4-range or lower.

Defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham has said publicly that he’s on the lookout for bigger, more physical corners.

Mayhew and Cunningham had front-row seats to the secondary workouts on Tuesday and had to be impressed with the display.

Fifteen cornerbacks ran in the 4.4-range or lower.

Three of those players officially measured in at six-feet or taller – Xavier Rhodes (6-1 ½, 4.43), David Amerson (6-1, 4.44) and Sanders Commings (6-0 1/8, 4.41). Cunningham had to like that.

Desmond Trufant

Milliner (5-11 7/8, 4.37), Darius Slay (5-11 7/8, 4.36), Terry Hawthorne (5-11 3/4, 4.44) and Desmond Trufant (5-11 5/8, 4.38) officially measured in just under the six-foot mark, but we’re only talking about fractions of inches there. They all passed the eye test.

If the Lions do indeed end up taking Milliner with the No. 5 pick, it’ll be the first time they’ve selected a cornerback in the first round since 1998 (Terry Fair) and he’ll be only the third cornerback taken in the first five picks over the last 10 years.

Cornerback isn’t typically considered an impact position coveted that highly in the draft, unless there’s an elite player/athlete, like Patrick Peterson was for the Cardinals at No. 5 in 2011. While Milliner put teams on notice Tuesday that he’s an elite physical talent, he did struggle some in drills and isn’t considered at this point as good of a cornerback prospect as Peterson was in 2011.

What Tuesday showed the Lions is that there are options beyond Milliner at No. 5, with players that fit the profile from both a length and speed standpoint. Tuesday also proved this draft is deeper at cornerback than first thought and there is value to be had.