Tonight has to be a very special night in the career of rookie outside linebacker Von Miller. Every player only gets one chance at this award, and Miller absolutely made the most of his opportunity this year.
This first big award of Von’s career makes me wonder though: How good could he really be for the rest of his career?
In my opinion, Miller was the clear MVP of the Denver Broncos defense this year. That is no small accomplishment seeing as the Broncos defensive unit boasts great players such as Elvis Dumervil, Brian Dawkins and Champ Bailey.
Drafted in 2011, Von has made it known that he idolizes the great Derrick Thomas. The comparison between Von and Derrick Thomas has become a favorite amongst analysts, commentators and sports writers.
While it may be the popular comparison, I would argue that there may be a more accurate comparison for Von. That comparison would be to the legendary Lawrence Taylor.
That comparison may be blasphemous in some circles seeing as how Taylor is considered by many to be the best defensive player to ever step on the football field. But the similarities are scary, to say the least.
Lawrence Taylor changed the game of football. His burst off the ball and relentless pass rush gave quarterbacks nightmares. Without Taylor the idea of a franchise left tackle wouldn’t exist in today’s game.
The only football player I have ever witnessed to have that same jump off the ball is none other than Von Miller. Before his thumb injury, Von was on pace to have 16 sacks over the course of his rookie season. That is quite the feat considering he played in a 4-3 defense as an outside linebacker.
To demonstrate exactly how impressive that is we need to look at another outside linebacker in the 4-3 scheme.
The second leading pass rusher that played as a 4-3 outside linebacker this year was Kameron Wimbley. Wimbley had a mere 7 sacks and was relatively healthy all season.
The similarities between Lawrence Taylor and Von Miller start in some odd places. Both players were drafted in the first round and second overall.
Their sizes are also very comparable. Taylor stood at a modest 6’3” and weighed in at 237 lbs. Von Miller is listed at 6’3” and 245 lbs.
They both entered the league with elite athleticism as well. Taylor was rumored to run around a 4.5 second 40-yard dash. Von, on the other hand, ran a 4.49 second 40-yard dash at his pro day.
While some may still not be sold on Von Miller as the next Lawrence Taylor, the stats would beg to differ.
It took four years for Taylor to compile 11.5 sacks in the NFL. Von accomplished that feat in his rookie season.
The moral of the story is that the Denver Broncos have something special on their hands. If developed properly, it is evident that Von Miller could go down as one of the greatest defenders of all time.
Time tells all things, but one thing is for sure: The sky is the limit for a young Von Miller.