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John Miller was PFF’s most improved second-year guard in 2016

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Some well-deserved national love for the underrated star of Buffalo’s offense in 2016.

John Miller is the least-known member of the Buffalo Bills offense but had one of best individual seasons on that unit in 2016.

According to Pro Football Focus, Miller was the most improved second-year guard in the entire NFL.

After a reliable four-year career at Louisville, Doug Whaley drafted the guard prospect in the third round of the 2015 draft. As a rookie, Miller struggled for a variety of reasons. From a technical standpoint, it was clear the burst and bull-rushing strength of NFL defensive tackles surprised him.

He injured his groin early then missed the game in London against the Jaguars after a death in the family. Later, he spoke to The Buffalo News about his experience hitting the infamous “rookie wall.”

Frankly, I wasn’t expecting much from Miller in Year 2.

But the significant amount of strength he added in the offseason was apparent right away. It boosted his anchoring ability and allowed him to keep interior defensive linemen at bay even if he didn’t initial stymie his opposition.

In fact, I was beating the Miller improvement drum all season. At 6’2” and 303 pounds, Miller was suddenly a fleet-footed guard who packed a powerful punch.

After a sound start to his second pro campaign, a date with Aaron Donald would be a challenging test for Miller and a tremendous barometer for how much he actually had improved. This is how I graded Miller vs. Donald:

Although I have Buffalo’s final three games to grade — and I will get them done — through Week 14’s loss to the Steelers, Miller was the highest overall graded offensive player with the fourth-highest Efficiency Score, trailing only LeSean McCoy, Cordy Glenn, and Jerome Felton.

In my opinion, stylistically, the vast majority of players don’t change much once they’re in the NFL. But guys can get stronger, and it’s something Miller certainly did entering his second year with the Bills, which made him a drastically better player.

Looking ahead, Miller is the prototypical guard for Rick Dennison’s offense — quick, effective at the second level with a mean streak and sound pass-protection skills.

He’s set up wonderfully to take another step in 2017 to become one of the best young guards in the NFL.