Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner said the thing that separates himself from other defensive backs is his toughness.
“Just my mentality as a football player,” he said during his interview at the NFL Scouting Combine. “My toughness, the physical play that I play with, it’s just different form some cornerback in today’s league.
He certainly showed that this season, playing through a painful shoulder injury that will require surgery.
Milliner will need surgery for a torn labrum, and he said that would happen March 12. He’ll do everything other than the bench press during his workout tomorrow, and said he’d need approximately two months to rehab, which will have him back in plenty of time for training camp.
Milliner said he suffered the injury during Alabama’s loss to Texas A&M on Nov. 10, but didn’t miss a game because of it. He said he could have had surgery after the season, but wanted to hold off so he could work out at the Combine.
“No I don’t think it had any limitations on me,” he said. “I was hurting when I was playing, but you’ve got to fight through it and keep playing, so I just continued to go out there and play.
“I don’t think it will [affect his draft stock]. I hope it don’t, anyway. To say that, cause you know, you get hurt. I know I have surgery and I know I’ll be back to normal making plays and that’s why I wanted to come to the combine, just to do this and just to show that I can move around and do stuff with my arm hurt now.”
Milliner showed plenty on the field this season, and when asked about his perceived sub-par athleticism, said: “Watch the NFL Combine.”
That establishes the requisite confidence, and coupled with his willingness to play through pain, should have him in good standing with NFL scouts. He seems like an obvious pick for the Lions at No. 5, and adding a cover man will help them as much as adding someone with a little toughness.