Raekwon McMillan was one of the top inside linebackers in college football in 2016 — and is one of the top players at his position in the 2017 NFL Draft class. He’s been selected by the Miami Dolphins in the second round.
McMillan played a key role in Ohio State’s defense in each of his three years in Columbus and was the sole starter at middle linebacker for Ohio State in both the 2015 and 2016 seasons. He helped the Buckeyes win a national title in 2014 as a freshman, and by his junior season, he was the heart of a unit that finished sixth nationally in total defense.
McMillan could make an immediate impact on Sundays and develop into a player with a long NFL career ahead of him. Here are five things to know about the LB out of Ohio State:
Raekwon McMillan in the 2017 NFL Draft: What to know
1. Urban Meyer loves McMillan
Urban Meyer has coached a lot of talented, NFL-ready players over the years. But his glowing reviews about McMillan are among the highest praise he’s given to players he coached in college.
“He’s exceeded every expectation. I’ve had very few like that. From Day 1, when he walked on campus, he was a grown man,” Meyer said of McMillan.
Meyer and the rest of the Ohio State coaching staff relied heavily on McMillan during every game for the last two seasons. He definitely earned the trust.
2. He compares favorably to another former Buckeye LB
Bleacher Report draft analyst Matt Miller thinks McMillan could follow the same path as a different linebacker who used to wear scarlet and gray: Ryan Shazier.
Raekwon McMillan = Ryan Shazier
— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) September 13, 2016
First of all, the two are similarly sized. McMillan is listed at 6-foot-2, 240 pounds. Shazier is 6-foot-1, 237 pounds. Shazier, who left the Buckeyes the year before McMillan joined the team, posted slightly better numbers in college (317 tackles and 15 sacks in three seasons vs. 275 tackles and six sacks for McMillan) and he went in the first round to the Steelers in 2014.
Since joining the NFL, Shazier has been a stable part of Pittsburgh’s defense in the last two years after missing part of his rookie campaign, and he made the Pro Bowl last season. If McMillan can follow the same kind of career trajectory, a team would be lucky to have him.
3. McMillan is pretty fast
McMillan posted a 4.61 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. Technically it was third among linebacker in this class, but that counts Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers, who worked out with the LBs but will play defensive back in the pros.
Either way, a 4.61 is impressive for a 240-pound linebacker.
Kwon. can. run. Solid 4.61u 40-time for @Kwon_daTRUTH.
— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) March 5, 2017
That kind of speed will come in handy for McMillan, whether he’s chasing a tailback to the boundary, going for a sack or trying to make a play on special teams.
4. He’s been good for a long time
McMillan had NFL linebacker written all over him even in high school. A 5-star recruit from Hinseville, Ga., McMillan was considered the 22nd-best recruit in the 2014 class.
His offers from Ohio State, Alabama, Clemson and many others reflected his skill level, and he lived up to it once he got to Columbus. The careers of blue-chip prospects don’t always pan out, but it’s been so far, so good for McMillan. Whichever team drafts him will hope that continues into the NFL.
5. He was named after the Wu-Tang Clan member
Yes, Raekwon’s namesake is Raekwon the Chef, the rapper.
“Yeah, some of his old-school stuff is pretty cool,” McMillan told Cleveland.com in 2015. “My mom liked the name, the Wu-Tang clan and all of that. She liked the rap name, not his real name (which is Corey Woods), but his rap name. So that’s what she named me.”
Though McMillan said he’s more of a Meek Mill fan, there’s no doubt he has one of the best names in the draft.