NFL Draft 2011: Is Von Miller Set to Become the Next Derrick Thomas?

Rob GregoryCorrespondent IIApril 22, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 28: Von Miller of Texas A&M works out during the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 28, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

During an interview with Alfred Williams, Mark Schlereth, and D-Mac on a local sports radio station I listen to here in Denver (104.3 “The Fan”), Von Miller was asked about comparisons to the late, great Derrick Thomas. Miller responded by noting that he has gotten that comparison from his coaches in the past, and that he has even spent time watching film on Thomas, so that he can find things to emulate and improve on.

I should also note that the rest of the interview went very well for Miller. He stressed his commitment to teammates, and being selfless and accountable on and off the field. He just comes off as a very smart, balanced and special individual. The guys on 104.3 mostly agreed that Von Miller would be a wonderful choice for the Broncos with the number two overall pick; Miller looks to be a one-of-a-kind talent that can help a team establish a more dominant pass rush.

Former Broncos player Alfred Williams loves Von Miller’s game and has said from the start that he is “special,” and while Mark Schlereth also believes that he is a top athlete in this draft, he believes that the Broncos will ultimately go with Marcell Dareus over Von Miller.

But what if Von Miller is set to have a Derrick Thomas-like career in the NFL?

Can the Broncos, or any team for that matter, afford to pass him up?

Like Thomas, Von Miller is an intelligent, responsible, and hard-working athlete that can be trusted on and off the field. There are no real concerns that Von Miller won’t be able to handle the pressure and the lifestyle that goes along with being a star in the NFL.

And Miller has an explosive burst, quick hands, and great technique, many of the same things that #58 for the Kansas City Chiefs was known for. Miller is a solid and reliable tackler, and has a nose for the ball. Derrick Thomas was also a solid tackler, though both players have the one obvious specialty: Getting after the quarterback.

Von Miller had 17 sacks in 2009, but missed part of the 2010 season due to an ankle injury, yet still ended up registering 10.5 sacks for the year. In 11 seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs, Derrick Thomas finished with 126.5 total sacks. His best year came in 1990, when he finished the season with 20 sacks. The late Derrick Thomas was a mega star for the Kansas City Chiefs, who terrorized quarterbacks like John Elway.

Von Miller could be the next great linebacker in the NFL. It’s possible that he could soon be terrorizing the quarterbacks of the AFC West as a member of the Denver Broncos, should John Elway help make the decision to draft Miller over Dareus and others.

Maybe it’s not fair to make such lofty comparisons, but it’s hard not to speculate like this when you look at tape of Von Miller and compare it to Derrick Thomas. With that kind of speed, athleticism and burst, it’s hard not to think that Von Miller may end up being the most dominant defender to come out of this draft.