Dee Milliner, from Alabama, stands with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected ninth overall by the New York Jets in the first round of the NFL football draft, Thursday, April 25.
A few days after trading Darrelle Revis, the New York Jets drafted a player who can help replace him.
The Jets selected Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner with the ninth pick in the NFL draft Thursday night, adding a player considered by many to be the top defensive back available.
And now, Milliner will get the opportunity to fill the void created by losing perhaps the best cornerback in the league.
"I'm not really worried about it, the comparisons and all that," Milliner said on a conference call.
It was the first of the Jets' two first-round picks. They took Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson with the 13th pick, which was acquired from Tampa Bay along with a conditional fourth-round selection in next year's draft.
General manager John Idzik, running his first draft for the Jets after being hired in January, said New York got two of the top four players listed on the team's board.
The Jets had a huge hole in their secondary after trading Revis to Tampa Bay on Sunday. Milliner could start opposite Antonio Cromartie on a defense that ranked second overall against the pass — even without an injured Revis.
Idzik said New York took Milliner not to replace Revis, but because he was one of the best players available on their board — regardless of position.
Cromartie will actually take over the role as the team's No. 1 cornerback, as he did last season after Revis tore a ligament in his left knee. New York also has Kyle Wilson, the team's first-rounder in 2010, but Milliner was high on the Jets' draft board because of his ability to match up with top wide receivers while helping lead the Crimson Tide to consecutive national titles.
The 5-foot-11 Milliner had six interceptions and 36 pass breakups in his three seasons with Alabama.
Jets fans gathered at the draft site at Radio City Music Hall in New York City cheered the pick and some even chanted Milliner's name while the team was on the clock.
At a pre-draft event in Manhattan on Wednesday, Milliner told reporters that the Jets liked him, and "they probably like me more now since they got rid of Revis."
He was right.
There have been some health concerns about Milliner, who reportedly has had five shoulder operations during his career. Idzik said Milliner is coming along in his latest rehabilitation and should be ready for training camp, if not minicamp in June.
Richardson, who's 6-foot-2 and 294 pounds, is an athletic, sideline-to-sideline lineman who had 79 tackles last season for Missouri. He adds depth to a defensive front that includes two other first-rounders in Muhammad Wilkerson (2011) and Quinton Coples (2012).
"His ability to change direction, it's special," said Jeff Bauer, the Jets' director of college scouting.
The Jets were also high on West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin, who was taken by St. Louis at No. 8 after the Rams traded up with Buffalo. Idzik acknowledged that New York fielded trade queries regarding its first-round selections, but the team "resisted the temptation" because of the players that were available.