May 8, 2013

Rookie of the Year: Erik McMillan, 1988


Safety, New York Jets



Age: 23
College: Missouri
Height: 6’2”   Weight: 200

Prelude:
Son of Ernie McMillan, a former NFL offensive tackle, McMillan was an All-Big 8 selection in his last collegiate season and was taken by the Jets in the third round of the 1988 NFL draft. In an effort to bring greater speed to the defensive backfield, the club used three of its first four picks on defensive backs (the other two were Terry Williams and James Hasty). He became the starting free safety and proved to be one of the fastest in the league at that position.

1988 Season Summary
Appeared in 13 of 16 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Sacks – 0
Interceptions – 8 [2, tied with Terry Hoage, Vestee Jackson & Carl Lee]
Most interceptions, game – 3 at Miami 10/23
Int. return yards – 168 [2]
Most int. return yards, game – 57 (on 3 int.) at Miami 10/23
Int. TDs – 2 [1, tied with Carl Lee]
Fumble recoveries – 0
Tackles – 80

Scoring
TDs – 2
Points – 12

Awards & Honors:
NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year: AP, PFWA
2nd team All-AFC: UPI
Pro Bowl

Jets went 8-7-1 to finish fourth in the AFC East while leading the conference in interceptions (24).  

Aftermath:
Daring and aggressive, McMillan was again selected to the Pro Bowl in 1989 after intercepting six passes, one of which he returned 92 yards. However, a change in defensive schemes affected his performance adversely in 1990. His play became marked by inconsistency and, following the ’92 season, he was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles as a free agent. McMillan failed to last the year with the Eagles and made appearances with the Chiefs and Browns in what was his final season. Overall, over the course of six years he intercepted 22 passes, five of which he returned for touchdowns, but he failed to live up to the promise of his first two seasons in the NFL.

[Updated 8/4/13]

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Rookie of the Year Profiles feature players who were named Rookie of the Year in the NFL, AFL (1960-69), or USFL (1983-85) by a recognized organization (Associated Press – Offense or Defense, Newspaper Enterprise Association, United Press International, The Sporting News, or the league itself – Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year). 

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