An unranked high school prospect who played for two junior colleges before arriving at NC Central, cornerback Bryan Mills has one of the most intriguing backstories of any player in the 2021 NFL Draft. Can his football story become a fairytale with a selection over the upcoming three days in Cleveland?
Bryan Mills NFL Draft Player Profile
- Position: Cornerback
- School: North Carolina Central
- Current Year: Senior
- Height: 6’1″
- Weight: 174 pounds
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Tony Pauline’s Bryan Mills Scouting Report
Positives: Nice-sized cornerback with next-level athleticism. Possesses outstanding length and a physical game and battles opponents throughout the action. Jams receivers at the line and slows their releases off the snap. Quick flipping his hips and works to track the pass in the air. Displays a good move to the throw, shows a closing burst, and willingly takes on bigger opponents. Fires up the field defending the run and displays himself as a strong tackler.
Negatives: Does not come out of his transition with balance. Plays to one speed and cannot recover. Lacks a quick closing burst. Ineffective backed off the line of scrimmage.
Analysis: Mills possesses the size, strength, and tenacity to line up in press coverage, but he needs to improve all areas of his game and be more consistent before he’ll be NFL-ready.
Bryan Mills Player Profile
A versatile player who lined up on both sides of the ball for Quartz Hill High School, Mills was unranked by all major recruiting sites. As a result, his attention turned to the junior college circuit, landing at Antelope Valley College for the 2017 season. While Antelope compiled a 5-5 record, Mills commanded attention by amassing 2 interceptions, 8 pass breakups, and 26 tackles.
For the following season, he would transfer to the College of the Canyons. Although his statistics were relatively meager compared to his time at Antelope, his time there was highly successful. Canyons went 10-0 in the 2018 regular season to claim the Southern California Football Association National Division title. The defense surrendered just 10 touchdowns while allowing 9.5 points per game.
In addition to making 12 tackles on defense, Mills provided value as a special teams contributor. Following the season, the opportunity to play Division I football at the FCS level presented itself with a transfer to play cornerback at NC Central.
Mills has breakout season for NC Central
After just two games for NC Central, Mills’ performances at cornerback earned him a starting role. He quickly established himself as a defensive playmaker, but his starring role came against Morgan State. He was named the MEAC Defensive Player of the Week and FCS National Player of the Week following a performance where he secured 3 interceptions. That feat alone was impressive enough. However, 2 of the interceptions were touchdown-saving stops in the red zone.
During the 2019 season, Mills snagged 5 interceptions and made an additional 8 pass breakups. On top of his program record-tying haul against Morgan State, he grabbed a walk-off interception to seal a victory against Delaware State. Furthermore, he displayed tackling ability with 22 tackles and a half-sack.
Following his impressive first season at the FCS level, Mills earned first-team All-MEAC and All-American honors by FCS coaches. Primed for big things in 2020, he was named a preseason All-American before the postponement of the FCS season. Faced with playing in the spring or declaring for the 2021 NFL Draft, the NC Central cornerback opted for the latter.
Having garnered the attention of Jim Nagy and the staff at the Senior Bowl during his junior season, Mills received an invite to Mobile. Once there, he displayed his ability against some of the best receivers in college football. He registered 4 tackles and a pass breakup during the game, impressing the teams in attendance and giving a significant boost to his draft stock.
Bryan Mills’ best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
With his size and ball skills, Mills is an intriguing late-round prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft. If he does get drafted, he won’t make an immediate impact as he must work on technique. Still, that shouldn’t stop an NFL team from being intrigued enough to take a shot on the NC Central cornerback.
Some potential team fits for the lengthy cornerback include the Seattle Seahawks, Kansas City Chiefs, Tennessee Titans, and Atlanta Falcons.
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Oliver Hodgkinson is a staff writer for Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter at @ojhodgkinson.