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2011 NFL Draft: Is Von Miller Truly a Can't Miss Draft Prospect?

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2011 NFL Draft: Is Von Miller Truly a Can't Miss Draft Prospect?
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I would really prefer to write that Von Miller is a “can’t miss” prospect that should be drafted at the very top of the first round.

But maybe that's not entirely accurate.

Miller is one of the more freakish athletes to come out of a draft in recent memory. He is more than just highly gifted: He’s intelligent, he works very hard at all aspects of his game, and by all accounts, he has wonderful character.

And by adding his name to the lawsuit that was filed by key veterans against the NFL, we can also assume that he is selfless and focused on the future.

Let’s not also forget to mention that he is versatile.

Miller believes that he can play in any and all schemes. Miller said, "Once you get past learning the plays, it's all about having fun. And at that point, it comes down to just lining up and beating the man in front of you."

One team’s personnel director summed Miller up this way: "The question you have is whether he can be an every-down rusher at his size in a 4-3 scheme, but there's no question he has excellent upside. He has the explosion off the ball, the burst, the ability to stay low to the ground and the closing speed to finish a play. When you talk about the things you want in a great pass-rusher, this guy has all of them."

But is he a “can’t miss” prospect?

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Of course we cannot safely say that about any prospect, and while Miller doesn’t have the more obvious red-flags with guys like Nick Fairley (character issues) and Da’Quan Bowers (injuries and durability) there are still things to consider.

First and foremost, the things we keep hearing about Miller sound an awful lot like the scouting report that was being made on current Seahawk linebacker Aaron Curry.

Curry was an equally freakish athlete—tremendous strength and quickness—and also a “can’t miss" prospect.

He was the first linebacker taken in a draft (2009) that featured immediate impact players like Clay Matthews Jr., Brian Cushing, Brian Orapko, Rey Maualuga and James Laurinaitis.

Matthews has been nothing short of brilliant, and even Laurinatis, who was taken by St. Louis in the second round, has outperformed Curry up to this point in their respective careers.

If the Seahawks were to give an honest grade on Aaron Curry, they might give him a C-. He has not been dominant in the pass rush, which was supposed to be his strongest feature, and he has generally underperformed in all other areas.

Then again, the expectations may have been set too high.

Might we be saying the same thing about Von Miller in two years? It’s certainly possible.

A team could spend a high pick on him and expect him to help transform a defense by terrorizing quarterbacks, making plays and creating turnovers, but he could have a hard time adjusting or he might even suffer because of poor talent around him.

There are a lot of variables to consider, but the bottom line is that the hype machine may be Miller’s biggest enemy. By now it’s a foregone conclusion that Miller will be dominant, and that may not be fair to Miller.

It’s not every day that guys like Clay Matthews Jr. come into the NFL and quickly develop into a top-tier player.

Additionally, there are concerns about Miller’s size and ability to play pass coverage. Many scouts have wondered if Miller’s size can lead to him getting swallowed up by an effective offensive line.

That argument may or may not prove to be valid, but it’s worth considering. The concern that Miller is not effective in coverage could mean that he would be a liability against teams looking to exploit matchups.

However, there are a lot of great and talented linebackers in the league who are less than stellar in pass coverage, so it’s not that teams should pass on him solely for this reason.

In the end, Von Miller is not Aaron Curry. Any comparison between the two is mere conjecture.

But it can serve as a reminder that there is no such thing as a “can’t miss” player.

Until we see Miller on the field, playing for an NFL team, we can only wonder.

 

(Source: ESPN.com. Quotes taken from an article that can be read here.)

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