2011 Buffalo Bills: Can Von Miller Lead the Bills to Reach 40 Sack Plateau?

Dan Van WieContributor IIIApril 23, 2011

If everything plays out according to script, the Buffalo Bills seem to be poised to draft Von Miller, the All-American linebacker from Texas A&M, with the third overall draft pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.

The Carolina Panthers look to be comfortable with the idea of drafting Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton, the Auburn quarterback with the first overall draft pick.

Next up, is the Denver Broncos, who covet Alabama defensive lineman Marcell Dareus, and he would do wonders for all their defensive woes.

When the Bills turn comes up next, they have options ranging from Miller, to LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson, to Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert, to Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green, as well as some intriguing names like Robert Quinn, Nick Fairley, Cam Jordan and Julio Jones.

In my opinion, under second year general manager Buddy Nix, the Bills will go with Miller. He has the most experience of all of the other options. The Bills worked with him for a solid week at the Senior Bowl.

He would be a starter for the Bills and an every-down player, which is something Nix expects from this lofty pick. Miller is an elite athlete and those are in short supply on the Bills roster.

In addition, Miller is a senior, which continues the tradition that Buddy Nix established in the 2010 draft. In that draft, Nix drafted nothing but seniors, so he can continue avoiding the "one-year wonder" types.

The addition of Miller, combined with the supposed healthy return of Shawne Merriman, means that Bills opponents blocking schemes will not be able to cheat to one side or the other.

In addition, it would seem that the more single blocker scenarios that can be isolated for Miller and Merriman, the more successful each of them will be individually and collectively.

Not only that, but increasing the pressure on quarterbacks will result in more hurried throws, more interceptions, less time for the defense on the field, better field position and ultimately more wins.

When it becomes clear to opposing coaches and offensive coordinators that they have to devote additional blockers to help out on the Bills' outside linebackers, that should then allow for an easier path to the quarterback for the Bills defenders charging up the middle; namely Kyle Williams, Arthur Moats, Antonio Coleman, Paul Posluszny and Danny Batten.

It is not yet official that Posluszny will be back, but it appears that both sides want to see that happen.

Don't forget about other veterans such as Chris Kelsay, Andra Davis and Dwan Edwards, who will contribute and play their part, even if they are reduced to more of a role player, or are part of a rotation to keep their legs fresher.

In addition to those players, there will also be some easier blocking schemes for players like Alex Carrington and Torell Troup, the two early round defensive picks by the Bills in 2010, to take their game up to the next level and make some plays. We would like to add Aaron Maybin in to this group, but the former first round pick in the 2009 draft, has yet to record a sack in two years, and nobody is sure if he will even make the final roster cuts for the 2011 season.

From the 2010 season, the Bills sack total was a meager 27, which had them ranked 27th place in the NFL. Their team leaders were Kyle Williams (5.5), Chris Kelsay (3.5), Bryan Scott (3), Marcus Stroud (3) and Arthur Moats (2.5). Others that chipped in were Posloszny (2), Spencer Johnson (2), and then a number of players with one sack.

From the above names, all of them are back with the exception of Stroud and we are still awaiting the free agency outcome of Posluszny's contract situation..

One of the main reasons for my belief that the Bills can make the jump to the 40 sack level, is because of the young talent they have amassed or will be amassing via the draft.

Consider that these young players have some extremely strong sack numbers in college and are just waiting for a chance to be on the field; Von Miller (33 career sacks), Antonio Coleman (23.5 sacks), Danny Batten (25 sacks) and Arthur Moats (29 sacks).

When you consider that Merriman had 39 sacks in his first three years, and the Bills doctors believe that they have found the cure to allow him to come back healthy in 2011, the sky is the limit for the Bills defense.

The Bills defense will still be required to do a much better job of stuffing the run, or else they will see a steady stream of one rushing attempt after another like they did in 2010. But I believe that the Bills will be adding some strong run-stuffers in the draft and the addition of Inside Linebackers Coach Dave Wannstedt will help the team in doing a better job versus the run.

If the Bills are able to reach the 40 sack plateau, that would put them in the company of other top defensive groups such as the Jets (40 sacks in 2010), Titans (40), Dolphins (39) and Eagles (39). That also would be placing them in the top 10 of the NFL, a far cry from 27th place.

So, when the Bills are on the clock with the third pick and Von Miller is still sitting there on their big board, I hope that Buddy Nix will do the right thing and make it "Miller Time" in Buffalo. I recall "Miller Time" when Terry Miller ran the ball for the Bills in the late 1970's, but this new Miller edition will hopefully stay with the Bills for many more years to come.