Barry Jackson

Kiper on Dolphins’ pick McMillan: “This would have been a great pick in 1985, 95” and more reaction

Penn State's Saquon Barkley (26) can't hang onto a pass in the end zone as Ohio State's Raekwon McMillan (5) defends during the first half of an NCAA college football game in State College, Pa., Sat., Oct. 22, 2016.
Penn State's Saquon Barkley (26) can't hang onto a pass in the end zone as Ohio State's Raekwon McMillan (5) defends during the first half of an NCAA college football game in State College, Pa., Sat., Oct. 22, 2016. AP

Reaction on the Dolphins’ selection of Ohio State linebacker Raekwon McMillan:

• ESPN’s Todd McShay: “Team captain. 41 career games. Highly productive. Every time I watched them, he’s the guy finishing things up. He’s a big, physical, run stuffing. A great tackler. And he kept getting better. He started to deliver his sophomore year. This past year I thought he had his best year. There are some coverage limitations but you are getting a tough guy in the middle of your defense.”

• ESPN’s Mel Kiper: “Can he be an everydown player with those coverage issues? He’s not a guy that’s going to get after the quarterback.... A little too one dimensional for today’s NFL where they’re throwing it all over the yard. This would have been a great pick in 1985, 95. I wonder if he can play every down in today’s NFL.”

• NFL Net’s Daniel Jeremiah: “This is another really good football player. If you want a linebacker who’s instinctive and productive against the run, that’s your guy. I thought he was more of a tackle to tackle guy. Inside, has some thump. You worried a little about him in coverage. Questions about his athleticism. But then he showed up at the Combine and ran much faster than any of us anticipated. They brought in Lawrence Timmons, bring in Kiko Alonso, and now they’ve brought in Raekwon McMillan to get those linebackers all squared away in Miami.”

• Pro Football Focus offered this in-depth analysis:

What he does best:

Has the power to take on fullbacks in the hole

Stays square to the line of scrimmage when pursuing to the boundary

Works well off leverage of DT, which allows him to attack holes at the line of scrimmage

Reads run keys well – doesn’t get fooled by misdirection, doesn’t lose gap integrity

Wraps up extremely well. Great understanding of the strike zone

Biggest concern:

Struggles to find targets, affect throwing lanes in zone coverage

Almost all of his plays versus the run come unblocked. Rarely plays through blocks to finish

Struggles to change directions against elusive ball carriers

Does not consistently get proper depth in zone coverage

Don’t see the speed required to consistently stay with NFL backs and TEs in coverage

Lacks explosiveness and agility to be an effective blitzer

Player comparison: C.J. Mosley, Baltimore Ravens; Like Mosley, McMillan is a solid run defender who can give up plays in coverage. This comparison does not apply to pass-rush ability, as Mosley has been productive in this capacity for the Ravens, while McMillan has not displayed the skill set in college needed to be effective at the next level.

Bottom line: “McMillan looks the part physically and at times flashes the ability to stand up fullbacks in the hole, but he doesn’t consistently attack (or protect his frame) with his hands, and blockers are thus able to swallow him up off the ball. He had a number of negatively graded plays in 2016 because he did not recognize assignments in zone coverage and failed to get proper depth, and his general play against the pass at Ohio State may have some teams worried that he is just a two-down player at the next level. Teams concerned about his viability against the pass (he also shows limited burst and agility when rushing the passer) may not view him as a full-time starter in today’s game.”

• NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein:

STRENGTHS: “Downhill movement after the snap is his norm. Understands angles. Can outpace pulling guards to the spot with his play quickness. Reads his keys and responds. Plays with good anticipation of lane choice by the runner. Attacks hands-first into blockers with good arm extension to keep his frame clean. Good zone-cover ability. Reads quarterback's eyes and slides into passing lanes. Has added additional thickness during his tenure.”

WEAKNESSES: “Struggles to leverage his gap as a take-on linebacker. Gets widened out of his gap by size. Gets trapped on the wrong side of the block. Tends to play over the top of a block rather than under it. Slow to disengage and tackle. Tight in his lower half. Missing the quick, reactive change of direction to consistently secure shifty runners. Delayed in stop-start pursuit to the sideline. Has some limitations in man coverage.”

BOTTOM LINE FROM ZIERLEIN: “McMillan has too many issues standing his ground and leveraging his gap as an interior run defender and could end up outside in the pros. He might have benefited from playing alongside a slew of NFL talent, but he's active and plays the game with good instincts. He has the potential to become an average starter in the league.”

Zierlein quotes an NFC team scout saying this: "I see him as a backup early on who will become a starter at SAM (strong-side) for a 4-3 team. He's been pretty productive but I don't see anything special.”

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