Patriots: Secondary Help in the Later Rounds
By Andre Menice
WT: 182 lbs
The Patriots seemingly dodged a bullet this past season by not having any major injuries occur to their top two cover corners Malcom Butler and Logan Ryan, but they cannot go into this upcoming season without addressing the depth behind their top two players at the position. In the Monday night game against Buffalo on November 23rd, Patrick Chung ended up finishing the game as the team’s nickel corner and was victimized several times by new New England wideout Chris Hogan, who ended up finishing the game with six receptions for 95 yards.
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Obviously having Chung play the nickel corner isn’t the ideal situation for the Patriots but in that game, back up corners Rashaan Melvin and Justin Coleman were either not playing very well or injured. After doing next to nothing in the 2015 draft in terms of cover corners, the Patriots have to address the position this draft and if the Patriots are unable to draft a corner at their current draft positions in the second round and don’t move up in the draft to draft a better quality corner, the Patriots might want to take a look at Harlan Miller.
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Miller isn’t a house hold name coming out of Southeastern Louisiana, but he can play the position. He has long arms and good height for the position. He also has a very quick twitch along with fluid hips and can mirror receiver’s change of direction down the field. He is also very aggressive and can jam receivers at the line of scrimmage and is a more than willing tackler against the run. He wraps up very well, something that’s not common for all cover corners coming into the NFL.
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But most importantly of all though, the kid has great ball skills. In the last three years at Southeast Louisiana, he had 22 pass break ups and 11 interceptions, he was also earned Third Team All American Honors his junior year in 2014. Along with all these attributes as a cover corner, he can also has some ability in the return game. In his career at Southeastern Louisiana, he had a total of 26 punt returns for 294 yards
**Click here to see some of Miller’s collegiate highlights**
Other than the small school label holding back his draft stock, his 40 yard dash time at 4.64 seconds is unimpressive at the least and tends to peer into the backfield at times and will get burned on play action. He also can be over aggressive and takes bad angles to the ball carrier. All the technique downfalls, peeking into the backfield, over aggressiveness and bad angles can be fixed with good coaching. The long speed is something that could be improved with better strength and conditioning training, which would be provided at the NFL level. Otherwise, he would require help over the top at all times from the safety.
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Miller could eventually start and pair with Malcom Butler on the New England defense. This would allow Ryan to shift into the nickel slot to where he might be better suited opposed to covering the outside man. Miller’s height and length would allow him to match up better to the likes of Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, Davante Parker and Sammy Watkins. If not Miller, New England needs to address the depth at the cornerback position.
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Next: Revisiting and grading Patriots’ 2015 NFL Draft picks
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