The Bills have been down for years. After striking out on Aaron Maybin, Buffalo would be understandably lukewarm to the idea of taking another "elite" pass rusher high in the draft.
And that is why Von Miller makes perfect sense with the third pick.
The new regime has taken over in Buffalo. Chan Gailey and Buddy Nix are bright minds with football experience.
Certainly, after taking the flashy offensive player in the first round last year, the Bills' first rounder has to be a defensive enforcer.
Will Von Miller please stand up?
The 6'3", 243-pound tackling machine would give the Bills defense a spark like Maybin couldn't. It wasn't that Maybin's ability as a pass rusher was ever in question, and certainly the Penn State product Maybin is a gifted athlete, but the former Nittany Lion was never able to find his true niche in Buffalo.
Miller should have no problem finding such niche.
Miller, a Texas A&M product, more typifies the outside linebacker position. Compared to Maybin, who was bigger coming out of college and was a hybrid OLB/DE, Miller can't be a true five-technique guy in a 3-4 defense.
Despite his playing of the position in college, Miller doesn't translate well as a five-technique in the NFL. He is severely undersized compared to successful 3-4 DEs such as Ryan Pickett, and would be abused by bigger offensive tackles.
Miller will be restricted to outside linebacker. That's not a bad thing.
It is his limitation here that defines his skill set.
If Miller was a hand-in-the-dirt guy as well as an OLB, the discussion would be much different. The Bills don't want to experiment with a behemoth pass rusher alongside Paul Posluszny and Shawn Merriman.
It is only a true outside linebacker who could make the difference of defense in Buffalo.
Miller ran a 4.5 40 yard dash at his pro day—to put this number in perspective, Clay Matthews ran a 4.62 and Brian Cushing ran a 4.64.
Aaron Maybin ran a 4.78.
It is not Miller's straight-line speed that distinguishes him, but rather his prowess in the 40 yard dash shows that he has the ability to move quickly. Combine that with his 68 tackles and 11 sacks in college last year, showing his quick reaction time to a play, and Miller would bring a rare blend of quick feet and respondent eyes to Ralph Wilson Stadium.
He could be just what the Bills need.
While it is difficult to assume what the impact of Shawn Merriman's arrival will be for the defensive unit, the Bills would be able to plug in a talented player in Von Miller on the other side and have confidence that the young star will be stout against the run and adequate against the pass.
Miller is, in some ways, the same as Maybin. Both come from respected programs, are similar in height and weight to a degree, and are both pass rushers who were/will be a high draft pick.
The two are inherently different, though.
Miller's Aggies haven't had a talented linebacker represent the school in the NFL for a long time. In Maybin's case, it was almost his civil duty to be talented as a Penn State linebacker product.
The Saints beat the Colts in the Super Bowl because the Saints had the uplifting hope of a community helping them to achieve peak performance; the Colts lost because the pressure of being the team that was supposed to win, in fact, brought them down.
In Miller's case, it is the hope of his former college team that will help him rise. In Maybin's case, the overwhelming expectation crushed him.
Von Miller is no Aaron Maybin.
He's just the logical choice for the Bills.