This is about the time during NFL draft season when long-held assumptions start to be challenged. Sometimes new information becomes available. On other occasions, gamesmanship has been taken to a new level. Sometimes, people just get tired of talking and writing about the same thing.
With that said, I feel we need to at least ask the following questions about Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner:
Should we back away from near-certainty that he will be among the top five picks in Thursday night's first round?
It is possible Milliner won't be the first cornerback taken?
These are relevant questions for the Detroit Lions, who own the No. 5 pick and have a need at cornerback, as well as the Minnesota Vikings, who would surely like to see a top corner make his way to the No. 23 overall pick if possible. Here's what we can pass along:
In an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer, Milliner admitted he is behind on his rehabilitation from March surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder. It's possible he won't be ready for training camp.
In a mock draft released Monday, ESPN's Todd McShay dropped Milliner to No. 10 overall. Meanwhile, NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said last week he considers Houston's D.J. Hayden as his top cornerback in the draft. As Kevin Wiedl of Scouts Inc. explains, positive chatter on Hayden has risen significantly since doctors cleared him to play following a life-threatening injury to his heart during a practice collision last year.
Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said last week that truly elite cornerbacks, presumably worthy of a No. 5 overall pick, are difficult to find. "There's like five of them in the history of the NFL," said Mayhew, who then went out of his way to tout the three cornerbacks the Lions drafted last season: Bill Bentley, Jonte Green and Chris Greenwood.
"All three of those guys are good players and we expect them to be around for a long time," Mayhew said. From my vantage point while watching on the Lions' website, I couldn't tell if Mayhew's fingers were crossed or not.
We went through a similar exercise last year when Vikings general manager "Crazy Rick" Spielman began encouraging us to challenge the likelihood that he would draft USC left tackle Matt Kalil at No. 3 overall. I felt pretty strongly they would stick to the script, despite needs at the positions played by LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne and Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon. This year, I'm not as certain. Stay tuned.