Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M Aggies
40-Time: (NFL Scouting Combine Time Feb. 23 - Mar. 1 to be added)
Miller, the 2010 Butkus Award winner, is an ideal 3-4 outside linebacker. He's a major threat in the pass rush, having led the NCAA in sacks as a junior in 2009 with 17 and following that up with 11 sacks as a senior in 2010 including at least one sack in each of his final six games as an Aggie. Miller played the joker position in college, which is a hybrid linebacker/defensive end with his primary role in the defense being to rush the passer. He's very quick, great at the snap, gets out of his stance quickly and has a variety of moves to get out of blocks or around would-be blockers. He's seen success as both a defensive end working with his hand on the ground and as an outside linebacker standing up at the snap. He has great lateral speed and is very dangerous in pursuit. He penetrates into the backfield and is great at finding the ball.
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Miller's biggest weakness is in run defense. He was not asked to defend the run too much at Texas A&M, but he'll have to catch up if he hopes to succeed at the next level. As mentioned, he can penetrate the line of scrimmage to get into the backfield to disrupt the running game, but he could be a weakness in run defense early in his career. Good coaching will help him overcome that. He could also use a little work in the weight room to put on some extra muscle. He tends to struggle against bigger linemen and has a hard time getting away from blocks once locked up, especially against the run where it's more difficult to run around blockers to make the play.
Coverage could use a little work as well. Just as he was never asked to do too much in run defense, he was never asked to do much in coverage, either. Miller will need coaching in this area, as his play recognition skills could use some improvement. Spending time in film study with the right coaching will allow him to build this part of his game to match his pass rushing skills and his ability to penetrate the line of scrimmage to disrupt plays and get to the quarterback.
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Following a spectacular junior campaign, many expected Miller to make himself available for the 2010 NFL Draft, but he chose to return to school for his final season of eligibility. Miller would have likely been a first rounder last year, although it's tough to say exactly where in the first round he would have landed. He played better as his senior season went on after a relatively slow start to the year, and finished with at least a sack in each of his last six games including three two-sack performances. Playing under Tim DeRuyter his senior season may have helped him improve his coverage skills a bit, although this still remains an area requiring improvement in the NFL. Miller was a team leader in college and is a very high-character prospect.
Potential NFL Team, Round
At this point, it's a good bet that Miller will be picked up somewhere around pick 10 to 15, although he's a guy who could fall anywhere from the top ten to the bottom of the round, especially considering the top of the draft is so heavy in defensive talent. That said, the Washington Redskins, picking at #10, could show interest in Miller to improve the front seven in their 3-4 defense where Miller would make an ideal outside linebacker. Picking behind Washington, the Houston Texans (pick 11) could also be interested with the Detroit Lions (pick 13) possibly looking his way as well. Some have even suggested the Cleveland Browns, picking sixth, could be interested in the pass rush extraordinaire if he works out well leading up to the draft. He would be sure to find a suitor towards the bottom of the round amongst teams looking to improve their pass rush including the Kansas City Chiefs at #21.
Danny Hobrock, a sports journalist covering NCAA Football and MLB is the editor of our college football content. His work for Xtra Point Football has garnered national attention and is critically acclaimed. You may email Danny directly @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @ DannyHobrock
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