Miami Dolphins

Checking the Tape: Youth, physical gifts make Raekwon McMillan an ideal pick for Miami

Raekwon McMillan will make the jump from the Big Ten to the AFC East.
Raekwon McMillan will make the jump from the Big Ten to the AFC East. AP

The Dolphins had choices. Plenty of them.

If they were locked into linebacker at 54, they could have gone with Vanderbilt’s Zach Cunningham. Or Alabama’s Ryan Anderson. Florida’s Alex Anzalone was there too.

In the end, those other names weren’t really options. Raekwon McMillan was the best available player on Miami’s board, general manager Chris Grier insists, and the Dolphins didn’t think twice about turning in the card.

We’ll know in three years whether that was the right decision.

But we can get some clues now from McMillan’s game film, and try to envision how the Dolphins will use him.

Dolphins blogger Max Himmelrich, they’re playing your music ...


Height: 6-foot-2.

Weight: 240 pounds.

Arm length: 33 inches.

Hands: 9 3/4 inches.

40 time: 4.61 seconds.

Bench press: 23 reps.

Vertical jump: 33 inches.

Broad jump: 121 inches.

Three-cone drill: 7.15 seconds.

20-yard shuffle: 4.39 seconds.

60-yard shuffle: 11.84 seconds.

SPARQ score: 120.5, 50.4th percentile, 42nd among off-LOS linebackers.

Film breakdown

Max’s take

Pros: McMillan is tenacious against the run. He actually compares very well to Lawrence Timmons, but he's a much better athlete. He does a good job of shedding blocks and keeping himself free of contact. McMillan also shows acceleration when blitzing. His tackling is as sound as that of any LB in this year's class. Last but not least, the ultimate pro: He's only 20 years old. By the time he turns 21, he'll be 10 games into his first NFL season.

Cons: McMillan didn't make many good plays in coverage; a lot of would-be interceptions passed him by due to lack of anticipation. He doesn't have great top-end speed, part of which could be attributed to added weight that he put on to play inside. He's plenty fast to make plays, but he isn't going to be running east and west with lightning speed.

Fit With the Dolphins: Sometimes, a draft pick leaves you scratching your head. Other times, you fully understand the team's motivation and direction with a selection. The Raekwon McMillan pick is the latter. With Lawrence Timmons on a two-year (potentially one-year) deal, the Dolphins will need an heir apparent inside. McMillan, at only 20, will be able to learn behind Timmons and contribute as a rookie, then potentially step up into the role of a player he compares well to at the NFL level. The Dolphins wanted to commit to stopping the run and establishing a presence inside, and they made a smart pick in their efforts to reaching that goal.

Adam H. Beasley: 305-376-3565, @AdamHBeasley