Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M, 6’3 243
Position Ranking: #2
Strengths: Elite first step suddenness in his pass rush; able to win the corner with ease. Fluid in his hips and footwork and plays with great balance. Able to bend the edge without a hitch in his movement as he closes down on the quarterback. Very good lateral agility and can stunt inside with his pass rush before protection can get properly set. Knows how to setup defenders wide and slant back inside before they can recover; very natural and instinctive with his rush technique. Will vary his technique based on competition’s abilities.
Plays fast but disciplined. Sound with his containment responsibilities in run support; plays the inside-out cutback lane before he releases into pursuit. Knows how to shuffle and trail the run play to the opposite side. Uses proper technique when taking on blockers. Good speed and can chase down ball carriers. Has very good quickness to settle into underneath pass coverage and stays light on his toes with fluid hips. Plays hard and maintains his pace throughout the game. Low-key with his disposition and differs to teammates. Team first player. Produced 28 sacks the past two seasons..
Needs Improvement: Lacks ideal size as a rush linebacker. Doesn’t have a wide base and thick bone structure to add too much more clean bulk. Gets washed out of plays frequently and can be run towards with no concern. Has trouble with tight ends and can be rag dolled by defensive ends against the run. Athleticism is better than his instincts at this point, but has shown improvement against the run and in coverage.
Bottom Line: Von Miller is the best pure pass rusher in this class. He shows great quickness, agility, foot speed and is an impressive athlete who plays hard from snap to snap. At Texas A&M he played both the strong and weakside linebacker in a 3-4 alignment and stayed tight to the line of scrimmage. At times he was almost impossible to stop one-on-one, and his sack numbers don’t really tell the whole story. If Miller was one inch taller and twenty pounds heavier, he would be Demarcus Ware or better.
The issue teams will have to assess is how effective Miller can be against the run, and whether or not he’s worth a high pick as possibly a situational pass rusher. Similar in some ways to former first round pick Aaron Maybin of Penn State, Miller has elite suddenness, but lacks bulk and strength to consistently take on blockers and be a threat against the run. While I believe Miller is a better football player than Maybin, the body type and concern will likely determine how teams rate Miller. His pass rushing ability is top ten worthy.
Draft Projection: 1st round.