Cleveland Browns: 5 options to replace Tashaun Gipson
By Thomas Moore
LSU’s Jalen Mills broke his fibula and tore ligaments in his ankle in August, but was able to work his way back to play in the Tigers’ final six games of 2015, making five starts as the team’s nickelback or safety. He was in LSU’s starting lineup as a true freshman when he was called on to take over when Tyrann Mathieu was dismissed from the program.
While he missed being on the field for the opening weeks of the season, Mills said the injury ultimately made him a better player.
“Just me being hurt sitting on the sidelines really being able to sit in on the meetings and hear what everybody else has to say (made me better),” he told The Times-Picayune in December. “Hearing the coaches talk on the headsets. Getting to be a student of the game.”
According to CBS Sports, Mills has:
"Agile feet with the recovery quickness to make-up false steps. Trusts his speed, bursting out of his stance to accelerate and close gaps. Swivel hips and fluid change of directions skills. Collects his footwork and stays balanced in his transition. Locates the ball in the deep half of the field and quickly gains correct body position. Improved route recognition with a good feel in space ? knack for running routes better than receivers. Strong hands to contend passes at the catch point. Verbose team leader and accepted his expanded role as a senior. Four-year starter with versatile starting experience at cornerback, safety and nickel ? also experienced as a gunner on special teams."
According to NFL.com, Mills brings a lot to the table:
"Four-year starter from deep, talented conference. Has slot cover ability. Hips are loose and he’s able to open and mirror receivers from press. Uses crisp, controlled footwork out of his transitions. Locates the deep pass and can turn to make plays on the ball. Very aware from zone and handles his responsibilities without many busts. Good blitzer from the slot."
While Mills is attractive because of his versatility, the team that drafts him will have to determine if he is better as a slot cornerback (which the Browns have covered) or a safety. And, at least in the case of the Browns, Mills will have to answer some potentially tough questions about his arrest for second-degree battery of a woman in the summer of 2014 (the charges were eventually reduced to a misdemeanor and he was assigned to a diversion program).
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The Cleveland Browns will open free agency on March 9 with a little more than $48 million in salary cap space to spend. Follow Dawg Pound Daily for all the latest news on free agency as the Browns work to rebuild their roster.