Instincts/Recognition: Very instinctual athlete. Has the ability to recognize the run and come crashing down the line, or recognize the pass and make a B-line for the quarterback. Solid overall awareness. Recognizes when he has no chance to get to the quarterback and gets his hands up to deflect passes. Sniffs out screens on a regular basis. Needs to improve at diagnosing routes when playing in underneath zone coverage. Doesn’t always process routes quick enough, which results in completed passes.
Strength/Toughness: Miller is light in the pants to say the least. He’s known more for his speed than his strength. Coming in at only 238 pounds, means Miller has little to no shot at playing defensive end in the NFL. He will more than likely play the jack outside linebacker position in a 3-4 defense. He’s not the most physical tackler. Lacks an initial pop. Is more of a wrap up and pull down guy. Does a good job of translating his speed into power. Very tough individual. Played more than half of the 2010 season with an severe ankle injury.
Range vs. Run: Possesses blazing sideline to sideline speed. Has been reported to run a 4.5 forty. Can track down ball carriers from the back side consistently. Shows the ability to extend his arms and shed blockers, and holds the point of attack well on the weak-side. Pursuit angles are inconsistent. At times his angles are exceptional, and at other times they’re poor. Sometimes takes too wide of an angle off the edge, leaving a gaping hole between he and the defense tackle/defense end. Needs to do a better job of keeping contain on the backside. Will get over aggressive and allow cut back plays. Uses his speed to weave in and out of traffic well. Gets a ton of tackles for loss. Makes it really difficult on linemen to get their hands on him. The combination of his suddenness and quickness presents a mismatch.
Pass Rush: Even though its cliche to say, Von Miller is explosive. A gifted athlete who can tenaciously gets off the line, bend the corner, flatten out, and cause havoc for opposing quarterbacks. Closing speed is outstanding. Favorite move is the outside speed rush. When tackles try and counter his speed, he pushes them up field with it, which sets up a nice inside move. Has loose hips and can change direction quickly and effortlessly. Executes head and shoulder fakes to the tee, which gets linemen off balance. Shows a solid spin move and bull rush, but they’ll need further development at the next level. He does rely on his speed too often. If (key word: If) tackles can get their hands on him he can be taken out of the play by simply pushing him behind the quarterback. Translates his speed into leverage and power. Gets underneath defenders easily. College sack production was off the charts. In the last two years, Miller produced 26 sacks, 7 forced fumbles, 36 tackles for loss, and 11 pass breakups. Insane!
3rd Down Capabilities: 3rd down is where Miller holds value. Has the pass rushing skills to consistently pressure quarterbacks at the next level and is athletic enough to hold his own in zones coverage. Wasn’t asked to cover often in college, but there’s no doubt that with the right tutelage, he can become excellent in this area.
Intangibles: Team Captain. Clean off the field. Two time 1st team AP All-American selection. 2010 Butkus Award winner.
Overall Stock: Teams will be salivating to get their hands on Von Miller at the 2011 NFL Combine. There is no doubt in my mind that Miller will wreck shop and improve his draft stock even more. At this point though, I’m not sure how much higher it can go. He already nailed Senior Bowl week in front of 32 NFL teams. As far as pass rushers, I’m very high on Miller. If he plays his cards right, he can be a top 5 pick. One scout compared him to the late great Kansas City Chiefs Linebacker, Derrick Thomas. When your name is used in the same sentence as DT, you know you are a special athlete. I grew up watching DT, and that scout hit the comparison on the head. The good thing about Miller is that he is scheme versatile. He can play outside linebacker in the 4-3 or 3-4. I think his skills are word best in the 3-4 though. To not have Miller rushing the majority of the time would be a shame. Right now with this size, I think he’s best suited for the weak side (JOLB). In order to play strong side, he’ll need to bulk up to holfd up against the run. Teams looking to add a bonafide pass rusher with production to prove to prove he’s the real deal, will look no further than Von Miller.
NFL Comparisons: Elvis Dumervil and Derrick Thomas