Editor’s Note: The Dolphins selected Raekwon McMillan in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft. He is likely going to start his career on the outside, but could be the future of the middle linebacker position for the Dolphins. Written back before free agency began this year, Houtz gives us a good breakdown of McMillan.
Heading into the offseason, the Miami Dolphins have several holes to fill on both sides of the football. However, one position that stands out above the rest, is middle linebacker. Anyone who follows our award-winning podcast Phinsider Radio, knows my opinion on the team’s middle-linebacker position, and the different options that are available. In free agency, the Dolphins could spend top dollar for one of the league’s best middle linebackers, whether it be Dont’a Hightower, Zach Brown or Gerald Hodges. They could also look to sign a low-risk, high-reward linebacker such as former Charger’s linebacker Manti Teo.
Furthermore, if the Dolphins swing and miss in free agency, the team will then have to turn their focus towards the NFL draft. Unfortunately for teams in desperate need of help at middle linebacker, the 2017 draft class is severely lacking outside of a few stud players. Reuben Foster of Alabama, is probably the draft’s most talented linebacker, and will likely be a top-ten pick. Which leaves Florida’s Jarrad Davis, and Ohio State’s Raekwon McMillan atop the draft’s best middle-linebacker prospects. For me, it’s a no brainer who the second best middle linebacker in this year’s draft class.
Here is my draft breakdown on Ohio State middle linebacker, Raekwon McMillan.
Weight: 243 LBs
Hometown: Midway, Georgia
School: Ohio State University
Raekwon McMillan had a successful career at Ohio State, where he posted impressive numbers. He led the Buckeyes in tackles in 2016 with 87, and finished with first team All-Big Ten honors. McMillan is an instinctive linebacker, who rarely misses when in position. He’s a beast against the run, and equally as impressive vs the pass. Miami’s defense ranked 30th in the NFL in 2016, and McMillan would help turn things around in a hurry.
In this play, you see McMillan’s quick instincts. He sheds the fullback with ease, on his way to the ball carrier. Very rarely does he get washed out of a play, or miss a tackle. His presence in the middle of the Dolphins defense, would be a welcomed addition.
Here, the center completely whiffs as McMillan blows past him untouched, preventing the running back from reaching the end zone.
Same game, different play. McMillan takes on the tight end, fills the hole, and stops the running back dead in his tracks. He’s a disruptive force against the run.
McMillan isn’t the fastest linebacker in this year’s draft, but he is quick to the point of attack. Here, he reads and reacts well to the outside run. He’s a step ahead of the guard, wrapping the ball carrier up for a TFL.
In this play, McMillan once again shows of his ability to read and react well. The pulling guard has no chance. McMillan finishes the tackle with authority.
McMillan isn’t elite in coverage, but he does blitz the quarterback well. Here he delays his blitz, shooting the gap to disrupt the pass. Easy interception for Hooker, who trots into the endzone untouched for the touchdown. This play wouldn’t have been possible without McMillan’s pressure on the quarterback.
In short-yardage situations, McMillan thrives. In this play, he times the snap, catapulting himself over the offensive and defensive lines. The result of the play is a short gain. Second down.
On second down, McMillan bulldozes over the tight end, stuffing the defender at the line of scrimmage.
Raekwon McMillan put on a show vs Clemson in this year’s college playoff game. He finished the game with 15 total tackles and one sack. Here is a look at his impressive game vs College Football’s National Champions.
LB Raekwon McMillan (Ohio St, 6'2", 243lbs) impressed me vs. Clemson. Great tackling technique. Runs well in pursuit. Can stand a runner up. pic.twitter.com/XCGmp424LW— My Colts Account (@MyColtsAccount) February 1, 2017
McMillan has plenty of room to improve, and must continue to get better defending the pass as well as rushing the passer. He’s not the fastest player, so he must continue to get better in space.
If it were up to me, the Dolphins would use free agency to find themselves a productive middle linebacker. However, players like Hightower and Brown could come at a substantial cost. It’s early, but Raekwon McMillan will be a household name after the combine, and could warrant heavy consideration at #22 overall. Sure, there’s a possibility he falls to the second round, but he’d likely be gone before the team selects at #54. Raekwon Mcmillan is a force against the run, and continues to get better in coverage. Furthermore, he’d be an instant upgrade to Miami’s LB core, and would allow Kiko Alonso to play weakside-linebacker where he’s better suited. It’s been quite sometime since the Dolphins had a play-making MLB, and McMillan would be that guy. Whether he’s drafted by the Dolphins or another team in April’s draft, Raekwon McMillan will be an all-pro player at the next level.
All clips were taken from DraftBreakdown.com