Tag:Von Miller
Posted on: November 9, 2010 1:09 pm
 

Cover story star Miller is Prospect of the Week

The famed "Wrecking Crew" moniker can't realistically be applied to the 2010 Texas A&M defense after one dominant showing, but Von Miller and his Aggie teammates' play against Oklahoma Saturday night was reminiscent of the type of play that made College Station one of the most feared stadiums in college football during the early 1990s.

Considering that I already acknowledged Miller's play in my Weekly Rewind , I watched plenty of tape on other seniors to find a similar performance worthy of Prospect of the Week. Wisconsin's Gabe Carimi shut down Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan, who entered the game as the nation's leading TFL artist and deserves some mention. So too does LSU's defensive tackle Drake Nevis and his impressive game against Alabama. TCU's Andy Dalton and Clemson safety DeAndre McDaniel also played critical roles in their team's victories.

In the end, however, it was Miller's speed off the edge that gave Texas A&M an upset victory over the Sooners that I felt justified the award.

Perhaps most impressive about Miller's game -- and something I left out of the Weekly Rewind piece -- is that Miller, who had been struggling with an ankle injury all year, actually aggravated the injury and missed some time in the game. He was back on the field late, however, racking up one of his three tackles for loss with a stop of running back Demarco Murray near the goal-line on the Sooners' final possession.

Miller, who plays the joker position for the Aggies, projects as a pass rushing OLB for the NFL. He's smaller at 6-2, 235 that what 3-4 teams usually require for the position, but has such an explosive burst off the snap and the flexibility to dip under the reach of pass blockers, that some scouts working for 3-4 clubs I've spoken to are making an exception with him.

Miller isn't often asked to drop into coverage in this scheme, but his ability to change directions and speed give 4-3 teams reason to believe he might be able to make the transition to their scheme as a traditional OLB.

His ultimate "best" position may not be determined for most scouts until Miller plays in a senior all-star game and/or works out for scouts at the Combine.

Posted on: October 8, 2010 7:45 pm
 

5 Senior Prospects I'll be Focusing On Saturday

Each weekend I list the five senior prospects I'll be focusing on. These are players who appear to have challenging matchups that will help determine how well they'll be able to make the transition to the pro game.

A noteworthy performance (either positive or negative) can result in the player being profiled in our upcoming edition of Draft Slant, NFLDraftScout.com's weekly PDF file for premium subscribers.

Last week I profiled Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder, Indiana quarterback Ben Chappell, Oklahoma running back DeMarco Murray, USC cornerback Shareece Wright, Alabama OT James Carpenter and Wisconsin OT Gabe Carimi.

Ponder had a solid, but unspectacular game last weekend against Virginia. Though he has a much tougher opponent this weekend at Miami, I elected to write about him considering that there are very few teams across the country who boast a better pair of cornerbacks than the Cavaliers' duo of senior Ras-I Dowling and junior Chase Minnifield (son of former Cleveland Browns' standout Frank).

That doesn't mean, of course, that I won't be watching him again this weekend. In fact, in terms of his pro grade, Ponder's performance Saturday against the 'Canes is as important as any game he'll play all year long.

Which is why he's among my Five Seniors to Watch -- and, as it turns out, the only player on the offenside side of the line of scrimmage: 

ILB Greg Jones, Michigan State: For all of the talk of the talented defensive linemen and cornerbacks of this senior class, for my money there isn't a safer defensive prospect in the country than Jones. A four year starter who has never missed a game in his career, Jones nonetheless will be questioned by scouts as to how a 6-1, 235 pound linebacker is going to be able to handle the physicality of the NFL. Over the first few weeks of the season, Wolverines' star quarterback Denard Robinson has emerged as the Heisman favorite. He hasn't faced an instinctive and speedy linebacker like Jones yet, though. If Jones has the 15+ tackle game I think he will in this game, he could emerge as an early favorite for Player of the Week honors. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by ABC/ESPN.

DT David Carter, UCLA: A rising name due to the fact that at 6-5, 300 pounds he has the bulk and strength to play inside at defensive tackle or move outside to play the five-technique as a 3-4 defensive end, Carter flashed on tape last weekend against the Washington State Cougars, posting three sacks. If he is to emerge as a legitimate draftable prospect, he'll need to continue his breakout senior campaign this week in an interesting Pac-10 showdown with Cal. An interesting side note - Carter is the brother of Fresno State pass rusher Chris Carter. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by regional FOX coverage.

OLB Von Miller, Texas A&M:
Having recorded 17 sacks last season, Miller entered this year as one of the more heavily hyped pass rushers in all of college football. In fact, he was the Preseason Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. After four games, however, Miller has yet to record his first sack and is in danger of seeing his draft stock plummet. In all fairness to Miller, he's struggled with a knee sprain all year long and has shown impressive toughness playing through it. It is obvious that he has lacked the explosive first step this year he showed in 2010. Injured or not, scouts want to see some production. He'll have his hands full against a talented Arkansas offensive line, but the relative immobility of 6-6 quarterback Ryan Mallett may help him boost his numbers. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by ABC/ESPN.

DT Drake Nevis, LSU:
Few players across the country have boosted their stock as significantly as Nevis thus far this season. The 6-1, 292 pounder doesn't possess the elite size that scouts would prefer, but his explosiveness as a pass rusher can't be ignored. Nevis has already twice been recognized as the SEC's Defensive Lineman of the Week and is second in the conference with 3.5 sacks. The Gators are experienced and talented up front so if Nevis is able to make plays in this contest he certainly deserves the early attention he's been receiving. This game begins at 7:30 pm EST and will be televised by ESPN.

QB Christian Ponder, Florida State:
Ponder showed the mobility, high football IQ and accuracy in the short/intermediate levels against Virginia last weekend that NFL teams like about him, but he has not been as productive thus far as hoped.  Ponder will have to play the best game of his season so far if he is to enjoy success against a supremely talented Miami defense.  Ponder enjoyed a bit of a breakout performance last year against the 'Canes with a then-career high 294 passing yards and two touchdowns (against one interception). This game begins at 8:00 pm EST and will be televised by ABC.
Posted on: October 10, 2009 4:01 pm
 

Okung battles, beats Big 12 sack leader Miller

One of the reasons I was particularly intrigued with Oklahoma State left tackle Russell Okung's play today was that he'd be matched up with speed rusher Von Miller, the Big 12's leading pass rusher this season.

Miller, a 6-3, 240 pound junior who projects best as an outside linebacker at the next level, has posted 9 sacks over his first four games, ranking among the elite totals across the entire country.

At nearly 70 pounds more than Miller, I expected Okung to struggle with the Aggies' speed. He did. Okung lacks the elite explosiveness off the snap that typifies most offensive tackles drafted in the top ten. He does, howeve, compensate well with a deep kick-step, long arms and good balance to re-direct.

On this day Miller beat Okung to the outside on several occasions and occasionally was able to catch the big man leaning outside and spinning back inside to generate pressures. However, at the end of the day, Okung kept his passer's jersey clean, not allowing a sack to Miller and limiting him to only a handful of tackles (4 thus far).

As one would expect from a tackle with this kind of size advantage, Okung consistently knocked opponents (Miller and others) off the ball. Okung has been unfairly characterized as a finesse blocker perhaps because of the backlash that comes from Oklahoma State's spread offense. In reality, he is quite physical at the point of attack, using his hands well to engage the defender and generating good push. Again, his lack of elite athleticism shows up when blocking on the move, but while a bit of a plodder, Okung keeps his feet and tracked secondary level defenders effectively. On many of the Cowboys' best running plays, Okung had released to the second level and eliminated the linebacker, often pancaking them.

Okung may not have the unique athletiticism of a Jason Smith or Michael Oher, but he's the most impressive senior offensive tackle I've scouted this year. I feel confident in our high to mid first round grade on him.

 
 
 
 
 
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