As a two-year (full-time) starter, Chris Milton has proven to be a very valuable asset to both Georgia Tech's defense and its special teams. Along with being a dynamic athlete, Milton has also shown some good work ethic and the ability to prove people (namely me) wrong. By this, I mean I did not expect him to make the transition to cornerback that he did from strong safety before eventually being named the starter there. Next week, Milton will be looking for a team to take a chance on him late for an opportunity to make a team.
Pro Day Results
Since Milton was not selected to participate in the NFL Combine, I will instead be showing his Pro Day results and how they would have stacked up at the combine. A quick note here: Because 40-times are timed electronically at the Combine (and being compared to hand times here), there is no sure-fire way to accurately compare those times, but I will still include them.
|Would-be DB Rank at Combine
Looking at his pro day results, Milton would have been at about the middle of the pack in terms of defensive backs. The thing that stands out to me here, though, is the speed. A 40 time of 4.37 is legit speed, and I feel like he did a fantastic job of showing that off in his time at Georgia Tech, both as a defender and as a special teamer. The disappointing things here are definitely the vertical jump and the 20-yard shuffle. With lower-ranking scores on both of those, that means he is not going to be able fight for many jump balls and he isn't very quick in close space.
- Special Teams Ace
- Zone Coverage
- Solid Tackler
As of right now, virtually all of Chris Milton's current value to an NFL team comes in his special teams value and his potential. It's no secret whatsoever that Milton has easily been Tech's best special teams player in recent years, as he's been tops in the league in blocks, while also being a solid tackler on special teams. While that might not seem like it's that valuable, it's actually tremendously valuable, as if a team has poor special teams tackling, that team probably won't be doing too well (see: Atlanta Falcons). A block of a kick or a punt can also have a tremendous impact on a game as it can serve as a huge momentum shift (or even a game winner like Florida State knows all about).
As a defensive back, Milton's value lies in the future. His combination of speed and zone coverage abilities may force a move to safety for him, but he's definitely a guy that could excel at either spot. The key here will be development. Physically and athletically, Milton is just not at the NFL level yet. Now, former Tech corners Rod Sweeting and Lou Young have proven that with hard work and development, you can make the team, even if they aren't super amazing in college.
- Man Coverage
- Lack of Strength
- Agility in Tight Spaces
Milton has all the potential in the world, but he is far from perfect. While he is competent in zone coverage, his man coverage skills can be a little lacking at times, but he makes up for those with his athleticism. It's possible that Milton was Georgia Tech's most athletic defensive back this past year, and his superiority in athleticism can carry him, but as I said earlier, the key here is development.
Unfortunately, there are a couple other areas where Milton needs to work. Defensive backs (especially corners) aren't always thought of as the biggest and bulkiest players on the team, but they still do need to be strong as they are going to be matching up with big physical receivers and will need to be more physical (in some cases) to beat them. That's how Richard Sherman got to be so good.
The final area that Milton needs to work in is his abilities in tight spaces. Right now, he's not very agile in those tight spaces, so that can allow receivers to do a quick move and be able to shake him in coverage. Improving this aspect of the game would do wonders for his game as a whole, as it would improve both his man and his zone coverage. Speed only gets you so far; you also need to be able to move in tight spaces.
Being a special teams ace, Milton is a fit for virtually every team, so for this section, I'm going to look more at teams that either have older corners who could be good mentors for Milton or good defensive coaches that could really develop him.
Buffalo Bills Now the Bills have a couple solid corners, but don't really have that mentor-type that I talked about, but they do have Rex Ryan, who is known as one of the best defensive-minded coaches in the game today. If there's a coach that can develop a defensive player, it's definitely him.
Cleveland Browns Joe Haden is one of the best corners in the league, so I think he could prove to be a solid mentor to Milton. I do want to say this about mentors real quick: Just because a player is good and getting older, that doesn't necessarily mean they will serve as a good mentor for someone. Therefore, just because I say someone could be a good mentor to him doesn't mean that they absolutely will be.
Jacksonville Jaguars Gus Bradley is the architect of the Seattle defense, and thus the Legion of Boom. Now because he wasn't technically the defensive backs coach, he can't receive full credit, but he definitely had an impact. They just brought in Prince Amukamara, but they could still use some more help at corner.
New England Patriots I feel like if there's a team that can take any player and find a use for them, it's the New England Patriots. They always seem to find a player that you've never heard of and they end up making some major play in a super important game. They also have like a million and a half picks, so they can afford to use one on a developmental corner.
New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks These next three are all teams that are known for their defense. They all have good defensive-minded head coaches or coordinators that would be a good fit for Milton and his development.
Outlook & Draft Projection
Now as Milton would definitely be a more developmental pick than anything, it's hard to see him going before the seventh round, which is where teams are most likely to take a chance on a player. Now, that doesn't mean that he won't be on a team come the regular season. As I have said throughout this whole profile, the key for Milton as he moves to the next level will be development. If he can get a good coach or a mentor, he definitely has the potential to become a fantastic special teams ace and solid NFL cornerback.
Draft projection: 7th-UDFA