After off-seasons that have brought changes to both sides, the most notable may be the Broncos' second overall draft pick, Von Miller.
Miller became the first draft pick under the John Fox regime in Denver after a stellar career at Texas A&M. Fox has always coveted pass rushers dating back to his time with Julius Peppers in Carolina, and Miller's ability to get to the quarterback is surely what caught the franchise's eye.
With 27.5 sacks in his final two college seasons and 33 overall, there is no doubt that Miller has the ability to harass Jason Campbell all night. His transition to the NFL game hasn't been a struggle, either, as he notched three sacks in three games, including two against the Seattle Seahawks in the preseason.
Now he wasn't going against strong blindside protectors in the games he got his sacks with the Buffalo Bills and Seahawks minus Russell Okung (who missed the game through injury). However, he has consistently gotten pressure on the opposition quarterback so far, and that is all you can ask, because he does not control his opposition.
Tonight, he will face off against a talented tackle in the form of Jared Veldheer, who shot to prominence amongst Raiders' fans last year with his solid displays at the position. The likelihood is they will trust him to hold off Miller with little help tonight.
The Raiders' line isn't a strong group, therefore dealing with both Miller and his end on the opposite side—Elvis Dumervil—will be a major problem. Dumervil is returning from missing most of last season but proved himself as an elite pass rusher the year before playing linebacker in Mike Nolan's 3-4.
He will be back to playing 4-3 end tonight and should draw most of the offensive line's attention with added tight ends and running backs looking to chip him.
This should leave Miller alone with Veldheer.
Veldheer will quickly find out how Miller was so successful in college, as he will not be able to cope with the rookie's leverage and explosion off of the edge. At 6-foot-8, Veldheer has no hope of holding off a crouching 6-3 Miller, who plays with even greater leverage than his height should allow.
His low center of gravity, agility and quick first step will see him harassing Jason Campbell all night if he is left alone with Veldheer. The Raiders have to pick their poison, essentially, as the same thing will happen with Dumervil if they leave him one-on-one on the opposite side.
Veldheer is the Raiders' best pass protector, so it should be a case of him and Miller going head-to-head all night long.
I am taking the rookie and expect to see him in the Raiders' backfield often tonight.
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