This post is part of a continuing series in which we break down 13 2011 NFL Draft prospects - our Baker's Dozen - that should interest the Buffalo Bills. Keep up to date on our Baker's Dozen series here.
You've been reading about Texas A&M outside linebacker Von Miller as a draft-day possibility for the Buffalo Bills since January, when Miller was coached up by Chan Gailey and crew at the 2011 Senior Bowl. Since that date in early January, Miller's stock has only gotten hotter, as he's now cemented himself as a Top 10 lock and, in all likelihood, the first pure pass rusher off the board this year.
Defining Trait: Explosiveness. Miller is not a complete or perfect prospect, but he truly is a rare athletic specimen. Players that weigh between 245 and 250 pounds aren't supposed to run 4.53-second 40-yard dashes, have 37-inch vertical jumps, nor possess explosive acceleration. Miller was able to translate his amazing athleticism easily to the college gridiron, putting up four years of stellar production at A&M. His explosiveness translates very well to the NFL game, as well.
Pass Rush. Has elite-level burst and a phenomenal first step, which contributed to his quick ascent as a collegiate pass rusher. Explosive speed rusher that beat college tackles with ease simply by running around them. Pass rushing comes naturally for Miller, as he has a variety of moves in his arsenal, and simply has a knack for getting to the QB. Knows how to counter. Bends with ease and runs the arc low. Closes on the ball very rapidly, and finishes with power. Plays big in big situations, but also disappears from action on occasion. Will pick up hustle sacks.
Run Defend. Despite public opinion, Miller is fairly adequate in this area, with room to improve. He is not, however, a "set the edge" run defender. Excels in pursuit, as he rarely takes plays off. Very reliable tackler. Uses his hands effectively, and disengages from blocks (though inconsistently) - but may struggle to stack and shed. Will get too aggressive and run himself out of plays; may initially be susceptible to the draw. Will never be a player that can consistently and effectively take on massive offensive linemen. Has a knack for making big stops in short-yardage situations.
Coverage. Has great change-of-direction skills and a solid level of comfort in space for a player that wasn't asked to cover much in college. Fluid hips, and can turn and run with backs and tight ends easily. It's impossible to know whether he'd be any sort of playmaker defending the pass (other than when rushing the passer, obviously). Defends the screen well.
College Production. Miller started his career at A&M as a defensive end, was moved to outside linebacker, and eventually settled into a DE/OLB hybrid role that allowed him to concentrate almost exclusively on rushing the passer. Struggled a bit as a starter in 2008, but emerged as one of the nation's most feared sack artists in his final two years.
Von Miller: College Statistics
|Von Miller Totals||47||182||50.5||33.0|
Athletic Traits. Outstanding agility. Rarely off his feet, as he's very balanced. Exhibits top-notch body control, able to maneuver through tight spaces and make athletic plays in space. Smooth and fluid, whether he's rushing the passer or dropping in coverage. Strong enough in the upper body to handle blockers, but can get bigger and stronger. Only average in terms of NFL size measurables at his position. Thin lower body may prevent him from ever being more than adequate against the run; it also leaves him susceptible to injury.
Von Miller: 2011 Combine Results
|Von Miller||OLB||Texas A&M||SR||6025||246||33.5||9.3||4.53||21||37"||6.70||10'6"|
Injury Issues. Miller has played through injuries in his career, but missed very little to no time in doing so, even if his effectiveness was limited by an ankle injury early in his senior season. A small durability risk, but he's also very tough.