After finishing his rookie season with a Pro Bowl selection, All-Pro honors and the title of Defensive Rookie of the Year, Von Miller is hoping to improve and take a step forward in his sophomore season with the Denver Broncos.
After being selected with the second pick in the 2011 NFL draft, Miller's development took a hit because of the ensuing lockout and his inability to work out with coaches and run plays. Because of this lost time, Miller made mental mistakes and was unable to recover on some big plays that offenses took advantage of.
Although Miller was full of raw talent, the lack of offseason development and Miller's natural aggressiveness got the best of him. He was fined three times in his rookie season for hard hits and broke his right thumb while playing.
Miller had surgery in November and returned after missing one game. He finished the 2011 season with a cast on his right hand to protect his thumb. With the cast, Miller finished the season with just one sack in the final four games, and he recorded no tackles in the Broncos' playoff loss to the Patriots.
If Miller's hand is 100 percent healthy when the 2012 season starts, what can we expect from the Rookie of the Year?
One thing we can expect is a more mentally prepared linebacker. Miller has been taking advantage of a full offseason and is learning more skills under new defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio. Miller is also learning new counter moves to use against specific blockers, something that he was unprepared for last season. He was frequently subbed out for Mario Haggan after making mistakes, and he hopes to cut down on those mistakes to prevent subbing out in 2012.
After leading the Broncos with 11.5 sacks, Miller is expected to improve that number in his sophomore season. He has one NFL season under his belt, is working through offseason workouts and camps, has a new defensive coordinator and a new Hall of Fame quarterback on the other side of the ball. As a result, he should make a giant splash in 2012.
According to Lindsay Jones of the Denver Post, Broncos linebacker Joe Mays had this to say about Miller: "'The way the guy can just spin, dip and rip, just do all those types of things, I can’t even explain it [...]. It’s amazing the type of things that he does naturally.'"
In 2012, Miller will keep mental mistakes to a minimum and improve on rush plays. His athleticism and ability to get to the quarterback quickly will enable him to easily shut down rush plays.
After seeing him play for Texas A&M and Denver, I'm confident Miller will only learn from his mistakes. His new coordinator should help, and the team should greatly improve under the leadership of Peyton Manning and John Elway.
With his work ethic, determination, speed and raw athletic ability, I'm confident Miller will, again, lead the Denver Broncos in sacks in 2012 and will be a defensive force to be reckoned with for years to come.