Monday night’s football matchup between the Jets and Falcons is not only a matchup to try to right the ship for both clubs, but it’s also an early measuring stick of sorts for two 1st round rookie cornerbacks. Dee Milliner was selected 9th in the 1st round of this year’s draft, while Trufant was selected 22nd by the Falcons. At the time, the Jets needed a corner to replace the starting position of dearly departed Darrelle Revis. Which team made the better choice?
Currently the most bang for the buck goes to Trufant who was drafted 13 picks after Milliner. He has started every game, while collecting 15 tackles and 4 pass break ups. Milliner on the other hand, has currently contributed four tackles (two solo, and two assisted) this year. Also, while this will be Trufant’s fifth start of his young career, this will be Milliner’s 2nd missed game of his rookie season. With Milliner actually playing in 60% of the games so far, it makes one wonder if the Jets would have been better off taking Trufant in the draft later in round 1.
While the season is long, and I won’t go so far as to say Trufant is a better player, I will say I look forward to the chance to see him play against the Jets wide receivers. I was concerned at the time the Jets drafted Milliner because he had already had five surgeries in his college career (Hernia, broken tibia, knee operation, and both shoulders). However, because he only missed 1 game his entire college career, I considered the medical risk worth the reward for his immediate starting ability. I still consider him the best corner that the Jets could have drafted, and look forward to seeing him finish the season stronger than he has started it.
I also wonder if another scenario played a part in the Jets drafting process. Trufant has two older brothers in the NFL already, Marcus Trufant with Seattle, and Isaiah Trufant who plays on the Jets. Did the Jets purposely avoid drafting a player, because they knew that it would mean cutting his older brother who plays his position? At the very least it would be slightly awkward to have your little brother knock you down on the depth chart when he hasn’t even played a snap of pro football. Just something to think about. I only pose this question, because at the time of the draft, Trufant was the fastest rising prospect up draft boards after he shut down every receiver in the senior bowl, and in combine workouts. I don’t believe I ever heard him linked to the Jets in terms of interviews or workouts even though they were looking at an early round cornerback. This just seems to add to my theory that they didn’t want to draft him and then release or demote his older brother.
No matter how it turned out, I hope both cornerbacks have very long and successful careers. Trufant seems to have the edge in coverage skills, while Milliner has better physical tools. With every game I think I will be more comparing Milliner’s career more to Trufant’s as opposed to the guy he was drafted to replace, Darrelle Revis.