Tag:Von Miller
Posted on: March 9, 2011 2:08 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2011 5:11 pm
 

Texas A&M OLB Von Miller wows scouts with 4.49

A well respected talent evaluator once offered to me a comparison of Texas A&M pass rusher Von Miller to 49ers inside linebacker Patrick Willis. Each, he said, played with uncanny balance and open field tackling ability.

Miller proved similar to the San Francisco star in another way Wednesday -- by wowing onlookers with breath-taking speed rare for his position.

Miller and Willis were each recorded at 4.51 seconds in the 40-yard dash at their respective Combine workouts. While Miller was unable to match the eye-popping 4.37 second time Willis had at his Pro Day at Ole Miss in 2007, he did wow onlookers with a 4.49 second showing this morning at Texas A&M's Pro Day, according to a source on the scene.

Like Willis, Miller didn't need to run after a strong overall performance at the Combine but did anyway, impressing scouts on hand with his straight-line speed and his trademark agility in positional drills.

Among the notable coaches in attendance today were a pair of talented coaches, former Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Billy Davis and Mike Zimmer for the Cincinnati Bengals.

Miller, the Butkus Award winner last season, recorded 27.5 sacks and 39 tackles for loss over the past two seasons. His ability to wreak havoc off the edge, highly competitive nature and maturity (he turned down NFL millions last year to return for his senior season) are all reasons why I rate Miller among the four elite prospects of the 2011 draft and currently project him fifth overall to Davis' Cardinals.



Posted on: March 4, 2011 1:35 pm
 

Was Brooks Reed Combine's Top Performer?

We all know by now that Oregon State's Stephen Paea showed record-breaking strength with 49 repetitions of 225 pounds. We also know that Miami cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke was the fastest player in Indianapolis this year, unofficially being recorded at 4.28 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

As teams have had a few days to digest all of the numbers coming out of the Combine, however, one player's workout that is gathering momentum as one of the truly elite is Arizona pass rusher Brooks Reed's .

Consider that Reed, who measured in at 6024 (6'2 and a 1/2) and 263 pounds and worked out with the defensive linemen, was nonetheless faster than most linebackers. His 4.65 second time in the 40-yard dash, in fact, was faster than 18 of the 24 linebackers tested there.

Perhaps his most impressive total came in the most important test for defensive linemen (and, some would say, linebackers) in the ten-yard split. Reed was timed at 1.54 seconds over the first ten yards, demonstrating a degree of explosiveness typically reserved for much smaller men. Reed's 1.54 seconds not only was the fastest of all defensive ends (North Carolina's Robert Quinn was second at 1.61), his split was also faster than some of the more highly touted athletes of the Combine, including Nevada OLB Dontay Moch, Tennessee-Chattanooga CB Buster Skine, Kentucky WR Randall Cobb, Georgia WR AJ Green, Troy WR Jerrel Jernigan, and Texas A&M OLB Von Miller.

Each of these players weighed in at less than 250 pounds and all ran the 40-yard dash faster at 4.48 or faster, but weren't as explosive in their initial start as Reed.

The initial start, is of course, a highly valued trait for pass rushers. Reed was a star defensive end for the Wildcats out of the 4-3 alignment. Teams operating out of the 3-4, however, will be just as impressed. That type of scheme and positional versatility makes Reed one of the more attractive pass rushers in the draft.

Reed is currently NFLDraftScout.com's No. 5 rated outside linebacker and the 49th rated player, overall.
Posted on: January 28, 2011 3:51 pm
 

Risers-Fallers from the Senior Bowl

The Senior Bowl is like any other all-star game in sports - it is designed to acknowledge celebrated athletes with the fan in mind.
Coaches' first priority is to get every player on the field, not necessarily win the game.

For this reason, the highly competitive practices serve as a greater opportunity to scout prospects than the Senior Bowl, itself. As such, some NFL teams send their entire coaching staffs, as well as their scouting departments, to Mobile, Alabama to gauge the talent. By Saturday's game, 90% of them will have already left the city limits.

With Thursday and Friday's practices essentially glorified walk-throughs, Wednesday is the last time most NFL personnel will see these prospects under a helmet until the draft, itself.

Scouts will have you believe that players can't hurt their stock by participating in an all-star game. That, of course, is untrue. More players, however, improved their grade than harmed it this week.

These are the 15 players whose performance in Mobile altered their stock the most. Ten helped themselves. Five are hoping that scouts will trust the tape and not allow three disappointing days at the Senior Bowl to harm their stock too much.

Ten Risers:

Vincent Brown, WR, San Diego State: Possessing a burst off the line, explosiveness out of his cuts and sticky hands to catch everything in sight, Brown may have made the biggest jump of any prospect this week in Mobile.

James Brewer, OT, Indiana: Overshadowed by this year's crop of high profile offensive tackles, Brewer's massive frame (6-6, 323) and athleticism might ultimately help him enjoy a comparable NFL career as any of his Senior Bowl teammates.  

Kendall Hunter, RB, Oklahoma State: Explosive, elusive and showing the strength and aggression in pass protection uncommon of backs of his 5-07, 199 pound frame, Hunter this week looked like the back that led the Big 12 with 1,555 rushing yards in 2008.

Cameron Jordan, DE, Cal: Simply dominant at right defensive end and when moved inside at defensive tackle, Jordan would have racked up the sacks and tackles for loss numbers this week had he been able to take ball-carriers to the ground. His position and scheme-versatility could see his stock skyrocket just as it did with former Cal teammate Tyson Alualu after a similarly strong effort in Mobile.

Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada:   Displaying the arm strength, accuracy and touch to be an early round pick, Kaepernick played side by side with Washington's Jake Locker... and was the more impressive thrower.

Jeremy Kerley, WR, TCU: Coming from TCU's spread offense, there were questions about Kerley's route-running. His quick feet, however, separated him from the rest of the South's receiving corps just as fast as he did the South's defensive backs.

Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M: NFLDraftScout.com's highest rated prospect in this game, Miller not only demonstrated his spectacular pass rushing skills, but his ability to blanket running backs in coverage, as well. The Butkus Award winner could wind up the first senior prospect drafted.

Luke Stocker, TE, Tennessee: Despite absorbing some hellacious hits, Stocker didn't drop a pass all week long. At 6-5, 255 pounds he has the bulk to contribute as an-line blocker. He may accomplish what former Vol tight end Jason Witten did not - hear his name called in the second round. 

Danny Watkins, OG, Baylor: A left tackle for the Bears, Watkins made a seamless transition inside to guard, belying the fact that he has only four years of experience in organized football.

Shareece Wright, CB, USC: With his senior season Wright's only one as a starter, the Trojan needed a strong performance in Mobile to emerge as a Top 100 pick. He provided exactly that, showing the agility and speed for coverage while measuring in at a respectable 5-11, 182 pounds.

Five Fallers:

Jeremy Beal, DE, Oklahoma: Lacking explosiveness off the snap and the strength to push tackles into the pocket, this Sooner superstar may have been exposed as a high-motor player with limited athleticism and upside.

Mark Herzlich, OLB, Boston College: Everyone respects Herzlich's successful recovery from bone-cancer, but the reality is the Eagle linebacker was the No. 1 rated senior prospect just two years ago and now is no guarantee to be selected in the draft's first two rounds - and that is before teams worry themselves about the possibility of his disease's recurrence. Herzlich was routinely beaten in coverage and proved surprisingly ineffective rushing the passer this week.

DeMarcus Love, OT, Arkansas: A First-Team All-SEC selection at offensive tackle, Love's poor posture forced him to lunge at pass rushers at the Senior Bowl, turning him into a virtual turn-stile. To rectify the situation Love may have to be moved inside to guard.   

Pernell McPhee, DE, Mississippi State: Having signed with Mississippi State as one of the nation's highest touted JUCO prospects, McPhee struggled to make an impact as a pass rusher in the SEC. His inability to do the same at the Senior Bowl - or even keep his feet - could see his stock slide into the middle rounds.

Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State: Demonstrating the burst and power during Monday's practice that earned him back to back Morris Trophies as the Pac-10's most dominant defensive lineman, Paea appeared well on his way to an impressive week at the Senior Bowl. Instead, the discovery of a torn lateral meniscus in his right knee ended Paea's week early and put any chance at being Oregon State's first defensive lineman selected in the draft's opening frame in doubt. 

NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Chad Reuter contributed to this article.

Posted on: January 27, 2011 4:12 pm
 

My All-Senior Bowl (practice) team

Today and tomorrow's practices at the Senior Bowl are essentially walk-throughs, making Monday-Wednesday's practices far and away the most important ones for evaluating prospects.

Prospects at every position stood out. Fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter and I put together an expanded Risers-Fallers article soon to be released on NFLDraftScout.com based on these practices. In the mean time, here is my All-Practice team.

QB: Colin Kaepernick, Nevada
RB: Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State
FB: Owen Marecic, Stanford
WR: Vincent Brown, San Diego State
WR: Jeremy Kerley, TCU
TE: Luke Stocker, Tennessee
OT: Nate Solder, Colorado
OG: Danny Watkins, Baylor
C: Kris O'Dowd, USC
OG: John Moffitt, Wisconsin
OT: Anthony Castonzo, Boston College

DE: Cameron Jordan, California
DT: Phil Taylor, Baylor
DT: Ian Williams, Notre Dame
DE: Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue
OLB: Von Miller, Texas A&M
ILB: Casey Matthews, Oregon
OLB: Lawrence Wilson, Connecticut
CB: Johnny Patrick, Louisville
CB: Shareece Wright, USC
S: Da'Norris Searcy, North Carolina
S: Ahmad Black, Florida


Posted on: January 25, 2011 10:32 pm
 

South Team Tuesday afternoon practice report II

This is Chad Reuter's report from the South Team's Tuesday afternoon practice:



Typically college football fans look to a team's wide receivers to move the ball down the field for their team to be successful, and therefore spend most of their time watching players on the outside during Senior Bowl practices.

The success of New England's two tight-end offense in 2010, however, means teams will be looking to this year's South squad in Mobile, however, for tight ends to cause similar mismatches next season in the copy-cat world of the NFL.

Tennessee's strapping young tight end, Luke Stocker, today looked exactly like the clone of former Volunteer and current Dallas Cowboys starter Jason Witten. The 6-foot-5, 255-pound Stocker stood out as a blocker and a receiver, standing up Mississippi State K.J. Wright when setting the edge on the run then catching everything thrown his way when out on routes.

Stocker does not have exceptional straight-line speed, but finds openings between linebackers in which he can sit down, and also between the second and third levels of the defense. His one-handed grab down the left seam was impressive, even more so considering he held on after taking a shot from Clemson safety DeAndre McDaniel in supposed light-contact seven-on-seven drills.

Arkansas' D.J. Williams had his best year for the Razorbacks in 2010, leading the team with 54 receptions for 627 yards and four touchdowns--a lot of which came after junior receiver Greg Childs was lost to injury mid-way through the year. He measured in at slightly less than 6-foot-2 and 236 pounds, which is not much different than successful H-backs like Aaron Hernandez, Dustin Keller, and Bo Scaife.

Williams is not going to be a best of an in-line blocker, but consistently ran solid routes to free himself of linebacker coverage over the middle or to the outside. Like Stocker, Williams have allowed no catchable balls to hit the ground this week, extending outside their frame to snatch passes and tuck them in. He's also given good effort as a blocker, but it's difficult for him to sustain against better linebackers outside. He'll be best as a mobile tight end/H-back prospect walling off defenders on the move.

Stocker and Williams are likely second or very early third round picks, and although Alabama's Preston Dial is the "other" tight end in the group and a late-round prospect, the 6-foot-2, 238-pound H-back also showed strong run blocking skills in addition to solid hands. His ability to tap both feet in-bounds while grabbing a pass on the right sideline displayed awareness , hands, and agility scouts weren't sure he had coming into the week.

When watching tight ends, it is nearly impossible not to also watch a team's linebackers, both in their ability to hold up against run blocking, as well as in coverage.  The top linebacker on the field today was Texas A&M star Von Miller--and that's not even considering his work as a pass rusher in one-on-one drills.

Miller surprised scouts at Monday's weigh-in with his thick lower body, which he used to hold up Williams and Stocker when man-up on run plays. His coverage skills are what really stood out, though, as the quick Williams could not separate from Miller on out routes because of the former Aggie's own lateral agility and speed.

A linebacker with Miller's closing speed to the quarterback, who also can be effective in coverage, is destined for a slot in the top 20 overall selections.

Another linebacker who looked quite adept in coverage and stopping the run was Miami's Colin McCarthy. Though a bit smaller than hope at 6-foot-1, 235 pounds, scouts liked his physicality on the line of scrimmage against the tight ends here and ability to stay low and balanced while running with them on crossing and wheel routes (McCarthy ran with West Virginia Noel Devine down the sideline in Monday's practice). His ability to play all three linebacker positions, probably starting on the strong side, make him a potential top 100 pick.

McCarthy was apparently making strong enough contact in this practice that he needed to get his helmet pumped up by training staff while kneeling on the field.

 The South team has two linebackers in this game, OLB K.J. Wright and ILB Chris White. Neither looked as fluid as Miller and McCarthy in coverage, and Stocker consistently stoned them at the line of scrimmage in pass protection and run blocking. Wright was also victimized by Stocker in coverage, with the Tennessee receiver using an overarm move to get inside position down the seam.

Frankly, judging linebackers during all-star game practices is extremely difficult. Tackling is what they do best, and they're not allowed to do that before game time.

But showing the fluidity, strength and agility to cover talented tight ends like Stocker and Williams (who may be seen as similar to the Patriots' rookie tight end duo of Rob Gronkowski and Hernandez) here in Mobile can be a major feather in a linebacker's cap come draft day.

Posted on: January 24, 2011 2:28 pm
 

10 impressions from Senior Bowl weigh-in

Before we can get to the field in Mobile, Alabama for the first Senior Bowl practices we had the weigh-in this morning. Rather than simply copy and paste the results, I thought it best to list the ten biggest surprises of the session.

  • Purdue defensive end Ryan Kerrigan surprised by weighing in at "only" 255 pounds. He'd been listed at Purdue at 263 pounds and many expected that he'd put on weight to come in bigger and stronger. Instead, he came in at a chiseled 255 and looks poised to make the switch to outside linebacker if he can demonstrate the fluidity in coverage this week.
  • Texas A&M outside linebacker Von Miller eased concerns over his listed 6-2, 240 pound frame by coming in at 6025. It might not sound like much to come in 5/8" of an inch taller than initially projected, but at nearly 6-3, Miller does have enough length to project as a 3-4 rush linebacker. Clearly, the Butkus Award winner is a terrific pass rusher. Some teams however, had concerns whether he had the size to fit this role in the NFL. That 5/8 of an inch could make Miller millions and help him retain the title as the best and most versatile linebacker in the 2011 draft.
  • Two relatively "small school" receivers showed off a couple of the most impressive physiques, instantly providing some evidence that they deserve to be in this contest. South Alabama's Courtney Smith (6040, 220) and San Diego State's Vincent Brown (5110, 184) sported chiseled frames. In all-star games such as this one, the first step towards making a jump up draft boards is by making a first impression; Smith and Brown certainly helped their cause by doing precisely that.
  • Washington quarterback Jake Locker came in slightly shorter than expected at 6022, 228 pounds. He had been listed at 6-3, 230. Again, the 3/4 of an inch doesn't sound like a big difference, but one of the elements that scouts had liked about Locker was his prototypical size. It isn't fair to list Locker's size as an attribute when he's only a 1/4" inch taller than TCU's Andy Dalton and 3/4" of an inch taller than Alabama's Greg McElroy -- two QBs who have been often knocked for their lack of ideal height in the past.
  • Two highly touted Big 12 pass rushers came in smaller and with less than impressive builds than expected. Texas' Sam Acho (listed at 6-3, 260 by the Longhorns) came in at 6016, 257 pounds. Oklahoma's Jeremy Beal (listed by Oklahoma at 6-3, 267) came in at 6023 and 268 pounds. Acho's significantly shorter frame and Beal's sloppier build won't help either combat the growing sentiment among scouts that each has been a tad overrated due to their high motor play for major programs. 
  • I've been pretty outspoken about my feeling on Cal defensive end Cameron Jordan, but today's weigh-in only added to the reason why I believe he'll ultimately rank as one of the more impressive players in Mobile this week. Jordan measured in at 6041 and 287 pounds. More impressively, he had 11 1/4" hands and 34.5" inch arms, one of the reasons why I believe he can be successful playing inside or out in either front. 
  • Derek Sherrod measured in with 35.5" arms and 11" hands -- the biggest of each among this highly competitive offensive tackle class.
  • The most impressive build among the offensive tackles, however, was surprisingly turned in by Boston College's Anthony Castonzo. I've been critical of Castonzo's thinner than ideal frame in the past, but the former 260 pound tight end looked very comfortable at 6071 and 305 pounds. Few offensive linemen can boast a six pack. Castonzo's is slight, but it is there. His long arms and defined pecs prove that his weight gain is legitimate and likely to remain (and increase) in an NFL weight-room.
  • As expected, Baylor defensive tackle Phil Taylor was the heaviest man in the Senior Bowl. He measured in at 6034 and 337 pounds. Taylor's bulk was evenly distributed, however. In fact, he showed less jiggle than many linemen closer to the 300 pound frame.
  • Also as expected, West Virginia running back Noel Devine was the smallest and lightest player in this game. Devine measured in at 5070 and 160 pounds. He wasn't the lightest by much, however. Miami cornerback Demarcus Van Dyke weighed in at 168 pounds despite being just a shade under 6-1. 
Posted on: January 7, 2011 7:32 pm
 

Peterson vs. Fuller worth price of admission

LSU junior Patrick Peterson, who I currently project to be the first cornerback to ever be the No. 1 overall pick in an NFL Draft , is one half of a spectacular individual matchup that makes for must-watch scouting in tonight's Cotton Bowl.

Unless you are a fan of Big 12 football, you may not know Jeff Fuller, but he's quietly ascended among the top ten wide receiver prospects potentially available for the 2011 draft.

The 6-3, 215 pound Fuller is the Aggies' Von Miller on offense -- a superstar that must be accounted for on every single snap. Having caught nine, seven and 12 touchdowns over his three seasons in former Green Bay Packers' head coach Mike Sherman's pro-style offense, Fuller is a proven commodity capable of taking over games.

Peterson is such a rare combination of size, agility and straight-line speed that there isn't a receiver in the college football who I believe can consistently get open against him. If Peterson doesn't bring his "A" game against Texas A&M, however, Fuller can make some big plays on him  -- especially if junior quarterback Ryan Tannehill gets time in the pocket.

As T.O. might say, get your popcorn ready. Tonight's showdown between Peterson (who I believe to be the best player in college football) and Fuller (among my favorite sleeper candidates to sneak into the first round) should be among the elite individual matchups of the entire bowl season.

Should you want to scout these two (and the rest of the Cotton Bowl) "alongside" me, feel free to check out my posts on Twitter tonight.
Posted on: November 25, 2010 3:29 pm
 

OLB Miller can lock up 1st round against Texas

Texas A&M pass rusher Von Miller can lock up a first round grade with a strong performance against the Texas Longhorns on Thanksgiving night.

I've spoken to three scouts in the past two weeks regarding Miller. Two of the three believe Miller already may have a spot in the Top 32 secure based on the explosiveness they've seen from him since his early-season struggles with an ankle sprain.

The other steadfastly believes that some of the real reaches in recent draft history have come when teams fall in love with how a player performs when 100%. At this scout notes, players are only 100% for a few weeks in the NFL.

The 6-3, 243 pound Miller lines up in the Joker position for the Aggies. His experience rushing the passer from a stand-up position has led to speculation that teams operating out of the 3-4 would be most interested in him.

While I won't name my sources, I will say one of the two scouts I spoke works for a team that employs (and plans to continue to employ) the 4-3 scheme.

Miller has an explosive burst off the snap. This trait is responsible for many of his most flashiest plays. It is his agility and flexibility, however, that really intrigue scouts. Miller breaks down exceptionally well, showing the balance to make open field tackles.

It is this fluidity (as opposed to stiffness) that scouts are keying in on when determining if a standup pass rusher can make the transition to a full-time outside linebacker position. 

Miller led the nation with 17 sacks as a junior, but was hampered with the ankle sprain to start the 2010 season. His breakout performance against Oklahoma earned him my Prospect of the Week award and the top spot in my Weekly Rewind of the prospects whose stock changed in week 10 of the college football season.
Though the Aggies will move Miller around a bit, he'll often line up against the Longhorns' left tackle Kyle Hix. Hix, a left tackle this season after spending the rest of his career on the right side, could be in for a long night.

This game begins at 8:00 pm EST and will be televised by ESPN.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving.



 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com