Posted on: August 29, 2011 11:39 am
At less than 6-3 (6025) and 246 pounds, Von Miller looks too small to remain at defensive end in the 4-3 defense John Fox is implementing in Denver.
Technically speaking, he is... and therefore plays strongside linebacker for the Broncos, but the No. 2 overall pick often drops his hand into the dirt to rush the quarterback from the traditional three-point stance and it is in this position in which Miller is his most dangerous.
Miller only registered one tackle in the Broncos' preseason opening game against Dallas. He was able to flush Cowboy quarterbacks out of the pocket, however, creating playmaking opportunities for his teammates. Two weeks ago, against Buffalo, Miller was better, registering two tackles, including a sack. Saturday, he registered two of Denver's five sacks, alternately confounding Seattle's first round pick James Carpenter with blinding speed around the edge and surprising strength for the bull rush. Miller essentially took over Seattle's first offensive series of the second half. On first down he sidestepped the blocker, showing good hands to shed and brought quick-footed running back Justin Forsett down for a two yard gain (play was wiped out due to a holding penalty on Seattle). The next play, Miller showed his ability to change directions and close quickly on the football, pursuing and tackling Forsett from behind for a gain of five. On the next snap, Miller jab-stepped outside to get Carpenter on his heels and then simply bull-rushed the 321 pound Carpenter before slipping off to sack Tarvaris Jackson for a three-yard sack.
Miller, despite being pulled in the third quarter, led the Broncos in solo tackles (4), total tackles (4) sacks (2), and quarterback pressures (4) in this game.
Some will take this game as one example of a defensive rookie being ahead of an offensive rookie. I see the physical traits, instincts and technique that is going to make Miller an absolute terror for the Broncos... and I mean, immediately.
The combination of Miller and the healthy return of 2009 NFL sack leader Elvis Dumervil will give the Broncos the elite pass rushing duo in all of the NFL this season. If that prediction isn't bold enough for you (considering that Denver finished dead last in the NFL with 32 sacks in 2010), how about this one.
Not only does Miller appear poised to win the Defensive Rookie of the Year award, I think he may be capable of doing so as emphatically as Ndamukong Suh did it for the Detroit Lions last year, perhaps even challenging Jevon Kearse's rookie sack title (14.5 for Tennessee in 1999).
Posted on: July 30, 2011 1:01 pm
The Denver Broncos and their fans can take a deep sigh of relief that Von Miller, the team's first round pick and the second overall selection of the 2011 draft, was diagnosed with a bruise to his right quadriceps.
Miller, according to Lindsay H. Jones of The Denver Post, limped off the practice field yesterday. Miller signed his deal with the Broncos on Thursday.
"It will be day to day," Fox said when answering questions about Miller. "It's not a pull or anything like that, so we'll evaluate it."
Miller, 6-3 and 246 pounds, the reigning Butkus Award winner was a star defensive end for Texas A&M, racking up 68 tackles, including 17.5 behind the line of scrimmage and 10.5 sacks. He also forced three fumbles. Miller started slowly in 2010. As a junior Miller recorded 48 tackles, 21.5 tackles for loss and led the nation with 17 sacks.
Most scouts felt that Miller would best fit in the NFL as a rush linebacker off the edge in the 3-4 scheme. Denver will operate in a 4-3 alignment under John Fox. In this defense, Miller is slated to play strongside linebacker, though he'll have plenty of opportunities to line up opposite former NFL sack king Elvis Dumervil, potentially giving the Broncos as lethal a 1-2 punch of pass-rushers as there is in the league.
Miller was NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated senior prospect.
In addition to Miller, the Broncos' 4th round pick, former Oklahoma safety Quinton Carter, was carted off the field with what Fox described as heat stress.
Fortunately, neither player is expected to be off the field for long.
Posted on: May 9, 2011 12:27 am
Over the next two weeks I will be highlighting a different position each day in an attempt to Find the Fit -- identifying 2011 prospects who are a particularly good schematic fits for the club that selected him. I'll also highlight one player per position who I believe could struggle in his new NFL role. Too often in the past rookies who have struggled in the NFL have done so because they were simply drafted into schemes that didn't fit their individual strengths.
Tight ends and centers were viewed by most talent evaluators as the weakest offensive positions available in 2011. For the first time since 1999, no tight ends were selected in the first round. The Minnesota Vikings made Notre Dame's Kyle Rudolph the first tight drafted in 2011, taking him with the 43rd pick. This was the lowest the first tight end had been drafted since the Bills took Florida State's Lonnie Johnson with the 61st pick of the 1994 draft. It wasn't just the top-end talent lacking in this group. The depth was weak too. The 2011 draft saw 13 tight ends get drafted. The 2010 and 2009 drafts each had 20 get drafted.
There is, however, plenty of reason for optimism with this class, as there are some exciting schematic fits with this group.
Earlier this week I broken down the quarterbacks , running back and wide receiver fits.
Lance Kendricks, St. Louis Rams:
Kendricks signed with Wisconsin as a receiver and shows the body control, hands and athleticism normally associated with that position. He won't provide the Rams with much as an inline blocker at 6-3, 243 pounds, but he is a matchup nightmare with the reliable hands to take advantage of Sam Bradford's accuracy down the seam.
Lee Smith, New England Patriots:
Smith is probably the least talked-about of the Patriots' haul this year, but he serves as one of the clearest examples of this year's draft of picking players to fill specialist roles. The 6-6, 269 pound Smith proved himself to be every bit as stout at the Senior Bowl as he had on tape, cementing his status as the draft's elite blocking specialist tight end. The Patriots already boast two exciting receiving threats at tight end in second-year standouts Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. Tight end, like running back, has become a position of specialists not unlike the starting pitcher-middle relief-set up man-closer roles in baseball. There aren't a lot of players at pick 159 that can make a real impact on a Super Bowl-contending team. Smith is one of them.
D.J. Williams, Green Bay Packers:
Just as Kendricks was a good fit for the Rams, Williams' athleticism and soft hands make him an intriguing mismatch in the middle of the Packers' aggressive passing attack. At 6-2, 245 pounds, he certainly lacks Jermichael Finley's size, but the 2010 Mackey Award winner is a reliable route-runner who will fit in immediately. Williams is also one of the more tenacious blockers of this class. His ability to latch on and ride defenders could lead to more big plays for his teammates.
Julius Thomas, Denver Broncos:
Thomas is a very intriguing talent who could pay off big for the Broncos with this pick. Denver has a need at the position and Thomas' athleticism and soft hands drew raves at the East-West Shrine Game. My concern is that Thomas is among the rawest of the 2011 tight end crop and that the Broncos seemingly could have used a player closer to starting. Thomas, like many before him, is a basketball convert. He played four years for Portland State's basketball team and walked on with the football team last spring. He'd only played one year in high school prior to that. John Elway knows full well the value of a security blanket over the middle. Thomas could become that security blanket, but he's far from the finished product right now.
Posted on: April 28, 2011 11:55 am
After talking to sources into the late night, I finally finished my two round mock draft and shipped it off to the editors at approximately midnight Pacific time.
For those who have been following my mocks for awhile, there are some surprises, beginning with the Denver Broncos using the No. 2 overall pick on Texas A&M pass rusher Von Miller.
I've long argued that Alabama DT Marcell Dareus should be the pick for the Broncos, despite the fact that I rate Miller as the better prospect . Dareus' bulk and strength make him an ideal fit for a defense that struggled against the run last year and have already released 2010 starters Justin Bannan and Jamal Williams. Considering that the Broncos could potentially quickly add to their win total if better able to compete against the Chiefs and Raiders' run-heavy offenses, the pick seemed a no-brainer.
Instead, the Broncos seem to be infatuated with Miller and will be taking the Butkus Award winner with the second pick.
The surprises continue from there with five quarterbacks making the first round, back to back Baylor Bears in the 20s and perhaps most surprisng, projecting THREE Alabama Crimson Tide players to be drafted before Mark Ingram, arguably the best player from Alabama in the draft.
The editors are working on updating my mock now. When it is all done, it will be available here:
(For those who want a sneak peek at the picks - but no explanations - you can check it out here . This is my final projection of the first round.
Posted on: April 25, 2011 7:08 pm
Edited on: April 25, 2011 7:08 pm
Denver Broncos 2010 record: 4-12, fourth place AFC West
2011 draft rundown - Seven total picks (round): 2 (1); 36 (2); 46 (2); 67 (3); 186 (6); 189 (6); 247 (7)
Defensive tackle: Denver tied a franchise-high by allowing 26 rushing touchdowns and the 2,473 yards allowed were second-most ever. The team will switch from a 3-4 back to a 4-3 front under new coach John Fox and after cutting two veterans (Jamal Williams, Justin Bannan) and likely losing two other players in free agency (Marcus Thomas, Ronald Fields), the cupboard is nearly bare. It would be something of an upset if either Alabama's Marcell Dareus or Auburn's Nick Fairley isn't Denver's first-round pick, when all is said and done.
Linebacker: The Broncos are in desperate need of someone to shore up middle linebacker. D.J. Williams has been mentioned as a possibility there but he simply hasn't demonstrated a knack for playing in the kind of traffic that position entails. Williams is best suited for weak-side linebacker. A player such as UCLA's Akeem Ayers, Washington's Mason Foster or Oklahoma's Jeremy Beal would make sense with one of the team's two second-rounders.
Safety: Brian Dawkins missed time last year with a pair of knee problems and is still as fierce and dedicated as ever. But he turns age 38, and free safety Renaldo Hill also is on the wrong side of 30. With little reliable developmental depth behind him, the team needs athletic defenders who can match up on a tight end and have the range to patrol the middle of the field. There has been a revolving door of veterans and fill-in types in Denver for several years without producing long-term, in-house options.
Tight end: Denver traded Tony Scheffler last summer and never found a replacement with sure hands that could stretch the middle of the field. The Broncos have since cut position reception leader Daniel Graham, a team captain, and the Broncos continue to wait for 2009 second-round pick Richard Quinn to emerge as a viable two-way threat. Either Notre Dame's Kyle Rudolph, Arkansas D.J. Williams and Wisconsin's Lance Kendricks could hear their name called by Denver at some point draft weekend.
First-round focus 2nd overall -- It is widely assumed that the Denver Broncos will select Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus with the No. 2 overall pick considering their gaping hole at defensive tackle, but with plenty of needs and no picks between No. 119 selections between their third and fourth picks, Denver will be listening to any and all offers to trade down. Dareus would fill a need. The powerful run-plugger has the size and strength to lock down a starting spot inside for a decade, but the team is also thought to have similar grades on LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson, Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller, North Carolina defensive end Robert Quinn and Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley -- and could nab one of these players a few spots lower in the draft should they be find a willing suitor to trade. The Broncos have done their due diligence on the top quarterbacks of the 2011 class, but league insiders believe they are more satisfied with their current passers than some have suggested and are simply trying to drum up interest in trading down.
Five names on Broncos' board:
DT Marcell Dareus, Alabama
CB Patrick Peterson, LSU
OLB Von Miller, Texas A&M
DE Robert Quinn, North Carolina
DT Nick Fairley, Auburn
Posted on: April 12, 2011 12:37 pm
Edited on: April 12, 2011 12:41 pm
The 2011 NFL Draft is still 16 days away, but NFL teams are already making phone calls about potentially draft-day trades.
According to multiple sources in the league, the Denver Broncos, Tennessee Titans, Washington Redskins and Chicago Bears are all exploring their options.
The Broncos, owners of the No. 2 overall pick, are thought the unlikeliest to actually be able to trade out of their selection. The significant cost of signing a player drafted that high and this year's lack of an elite prospect hurts their chances.
The Titans, owners of the No. 8 overall pick, however, could be in a more enviable position. Sitting ahead of the Dallas Cowboys -- who many believe are targeting USC offensive tackle Tyron Smith -- the Titans could auction off the pick in the hopes that some team is willing to pay to steal him from Dallas.
Sources tell me the Titans would like to draft a quarterback at No. 8, but are worried that there won't be one worthy of the No. 8 pick. They may have to trade back into the first round, however, rather than waiting for whichever quarterback might slip to their second round pick, No. 39 overall. In trading down from No. 8, they could add the picks needed to move up from the second round and still keep enough selections to help re-tool their young roster.
The Redskins, owners of the 10th overall pick, also could be looking to trade down and acquire more picks. Washington does not have a third or fourth round pick in this year's draft and have several needs. Mike Shanahan is thought likely to pick up a quarterback in this year's draft and has to figure out a way to add talent to a 3-4 defense still largely built on players ideally suited to a four-man front.
The Chicago Bears are perhaps the biggest surprise of the bunch. Despite playing in the NFC Championship game, the Bears have concerns along both lines and could use help at receiver and in the secondary. Considering the talent likely to be available at each of these positions, the Bears could have plenty of options staring at them at No. 29. As such, they could be one of the teams at the end of the first round willing to trade back to allow a club desperate to snatch up a quarterback before the expected run on the position begins in the second round.
Fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter and I aren't allowed to project trades in our mock drafts. Here they are anyway...
Posted on: March 7, 2011 1:59 pm
The Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos, owners of the top two picks of the 2011 draft, will be well represented at Auburn's Pro Day tomorrow.
Darin Gantt of the Rock Jill Herald reports that Carolina will send head coach Ron Rivera to the workout. Broncos' Vice President of Football Operations John Elway announced via his Twitter account that he, too, will be making the trip. Don't be surprised if every team in the league is represented at Auburn's Pro Day.
Quarterback Cam Newton is an obvious attraction, but getting a bit lost in the hype over the Heisman winner is the stock of defensive tackle Nick Fairley. One could argue that the Panthers and Broncos need help at defensive tackle every bit as much as at quarterback, especially considering the fact that both clubs invested high round picks in Jimmy Clausen and Tim Tebow, respectivley, just last year.
The timing of Auburn's Pro Day is a bit inconvenient for scouts as Arkansas and Oklahoma also have their Pro Days scheduled for tomorrow.
With so much interest in Newton and Fairley, most teams will likely choose to go to Auburn's workout over the others. However, the Arkansas Pro Day is very intriguing, as well. Talented, but troubled quarterback Ryan Mallett will be throwing, of course, which is reason enough to attend the workout. Mallett enjoyed a spectacular throwing session at the Combine and thus, doesn't have quite as much riding on his physical performance Tuesday as Newton, who struggled with accuracy in Indianapolis.
That said, teams truly interested in drafting Mallett may want to attend his workout to gauge more than just his physical skills. How Mallett interacts with his former teammates (and they with him) could give clubs a greater feel for his leadership potential at the next level.
Posted on: February 24, 2011 11:41 am
Denver Broncos head coach John Fox may have unintentionally leaked the direction his team will be going with the No. 2 overall pick.
The Broncos need help on the defensive line. Ranking dead last in the NFL in total defense, including 31st against the run will do that to a club. The team is also transitioning back to a 4-3 defense.
Fox sound excited about the impending healthy return of pass rusher Elvis Dumervil. He twice cited the fact that Dumervil "had 17 sacks" and erased any doubt that Dumervil would be returning back to defensive end, as he had played prior to former head coach Josh McDaniels' switching the Broncos to a 3-4 defense.
The surprise came moments later when he described his feelings about Broncos' 2009 first round pick Robert Ayers, a defensive end at the University of Tennessee, who struggled the past two seasons as a 3-4 outside linebacker.
Fox, when asked what he thought of Ayers and how he fit in with his defensive scheme, "I saw him [Ayers] as a 4-3 defensive end. We've got him penciled in as a defensive end. I have the utmost confidence that he'll be a productive player for us this season."
If Fox does, indeed, have the "utmost confidence" in Ayers and is comfortable with Dumervil's return after a torn pectoral muscle sidelined him all of last year, the Broncos will likely be looking at defensive tackle with the No. 2 overall pick rather than defensive end Da'Quan Bowers from Clemson or Robert Quinn from North Carolina.
Fox wouldn't go into specifics about this year's defensive tackle group, but seemed less than enthusiastic about his team's current defensive tackles.
Auburn's Nick Fairley and Alabama's Marcell Dareus are considered by most scouts to be top five prospects. Both have the size and physicality to be an immediate upgrade inside for the Broncos.