Jets pick CB Milliner, DT Richardson in first round
The John Idzik era in Florham Park began with the controversial decision to trade the franchise's biggest star last Sunday. Four days later, the Jets' general manager targeted a new potential shutdown corner.
The Jets selected Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner with the ninth pick in the first round of Thursday night's NFL draft. Within an hour of making their decision, the Jets' brain trust -- Idzik, Rex Ryan, director of college scouting Jeff Bauer and senior personnel executive Terry Bradway -- insisted it had nothing to do with Revis, who was traded to the Bucs for the 13th overall selection and a conditional 2014 pick.
"I think it's unfair to Dee,'' Idzik said of the perception that they're trying to use a rookie to replace a three-time All-Pro. "We drafted Dee because of his talent, we drafted Dee because we felt he was our best player on the board . . . If you insinuate that, I think it devalues Dee. Plain and simple: He was the best player.''
The Jets walked away with two of the top four picks on their draft board, according to Idzik: Milliner and Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, whom they selected with the 13th pick.
"You can't blame this one on me,'' Ryan said jokingly about using their first two picks on defensive talent.
The Jets are in desperate need of playmakers after ranking 30th on offense last season. But Idzik tried to alleviate the concerns of some fans by saying: "We're not done. We have two more days of work. We feel this draft is very deep . . . We're going to assemble the best team of players.''
Although the Jets were tempted to pick an offensive player, Idzik said, "Talent will trump need.''
The Jets were linked to pass rushers Dion Jordan, Barkevious Mingo and Jarvis Jones in the days leading up to the draft, but Bauer said Richardson was too good to pass up, even with fellow defensive tackles Star Lotulelei and Sharrif Floyd still on the board.
"His ability to change direction is uncanny,'' Bauer said of Richardson. "I don't think we've seen a defensive tackle this athletic since . . . I don't think we've seen one.''
Despite undergoing five medical procedures -- a right knee scope, sports hernia surgery, a rod placed in his right tibia and surgery on each shoulder, which he's rehabbing -- Milliner said on a conference call that he's ahead of his rehab schedule and will be back on the field before training camp.
Milliner added that his physical problems never kept him off the field. "If you watch the film,'' he said, "I'm out there playing.''
Idzik floated June as a possibility for Milliner to be 100 percent. The GM said the "the room was clearly excited'' when the Jets settled on him.
Milliner said Wednesday that he felt comfortable with the Jets when he visited a few weeks ago. After learning they had picked him, he said man coverage -- which Ryan is most fond of -- is "right up my alley.''
Whether the Jets like it or not, however, the comparisons between Milliner and Revis (who was selected 14th overall in 2007) are inevitable. The rookie's arrival also could spell trouble for Kyle Wilson, who started most of last season after Revis went down with a left ACL tear in Week 3.
But the Jets, for now, are trying to temper expectations.
"All he has to do,'' Ryan said of Milliner, "is be the guy we drafted.''