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View Full Version : My Take on Von Miller (Interesting Player Comparison Too)


McGahee
02-02-2011, 09:28 PM
Little article I put up on my blog, let me know what you all think about it.


Von Miller: 3-4 or 4-3 Linebacker?

Every team is looking for the next Demarcus Ware - a pass rushing phenom that can rush from different positions along the line and also make plays in coverage. Defensive Coordinators dream about having such a multi-purpose jack-of-all-trades to wreak havoc on the opposition. After racking up 17 sacks last season and following it up with 10.5 sacks this season, everyone thought Von Miller would be that guy. But upon further examination, Von Miller may not be the type of player that his stats would lead you to believe.

Usually undersized Defensive Ends in college have to make the transition to 3-4 OLBs in the NFL since they would get engulfed by mammoth NFL Tackles. The ones that have a shot to make it in the pros are the good pass rushers. So the issue now becomes whether these pass rushers are fluid enough to drop back into coverage, as Outside Linebackers. Von Miller is a special case, however. He has the pass rushing ability of a pure finesse rusher, and he has the athleticism and coverage ability of a Linebacker. So why isn't he a sure-fire Top 5 pick?

Well therein lies the issue: he doesn't have the size and strength you look for in a 3-4 OLB. At 6'2'' 237 lbs Von Miller has the size and athleticism of a Weakside Linebacker, the smallest of the Linebackers in a 4-3 system. He doesn't have the bulky body type needed to play the 3-4 OLB position that you see out of a James Harrison. This is reflected in his style of play as more of a finesse pass rusher that doesn't stand out as a run defender. If he can't stand out as a run defender in college, he is going to have much more trouble in the NFL. This doesn't mean he can't succeed in the NFL, it just means he won't succeed as a 3-4 OLB in the NFL. Those positions are reserved for the James Harrisons' and Demarcus Wares' of the NFL who can rush the passer and stop the run primarily, and then drop into coverage if necessary.


Thought he will most likely put on weight just in time for the combine and probably show up at around 250lbs, it won't change the fact that he is a finesse player that looked 'small-ish' in college, which is only going to be magnified in the NFL. He doesn't have the bulk or the body type to fill out the 3-4 OLB position.

Miller's skill set is intriguing, though. He could make a good 4-3 Weakside Linebacker, but his best fit would be inside in a 3-4 scheme. The one player that he reminds me of coming out of college is Lawrence Timmons, a former small OLB with great athleticism that could rush the passer (18 TFL, 5 sacks in his senior season) - now turned starting ILB for the Superbowl Steelers. Timmons had a lot of question marks as to how he would fit into the Steelers 3-4 scheme when he was drafted, and it took him a few years to develop and bulk up into a full time starter. Miller, albeit a little bigger and a better pass rusher, seems to be heading down that same path. He will probably have a hard time in the running game as an inside linebacker, but if you team him up with a run stuffing thumper inside, he can be serviceable. His versatility inside can bring a whole new dynamic to a defense, and if you pair Miller up with a creative defensive coordinator like Dick LeBeau, he will be able to wreak havoc from all sorts of different angles. Not only will other teams have to account for the outside rushers when facing a 3-4, they will also have to worry about where Von Miller will be coming from inside. And the cherry on top is that he can just as easily drop back into coverage and handle his assignments.

Overall, there is plenty of talk about Von Miller going Top 5 in the 2011 NFL Draft. The team that picks him will be getting a natural playmaker with an intriguing skill set, however they will not be getting an impact 3-4 OLB. It is up to them to decide how to use Von Miller, and if they get it right he will justify his high draft selection.

brasho
02-03-2011, 05:21 AM
Anybody that assumes that Von Miller doesn't have the size and strength to be an OLB in a 3-4 has never watched him play. He plays strong. He weighs 237, big deal. Clay Matthews weighed 240 at the Combine 2 years ago, that's only 3 lbs more than Miller weighed at the Senior Bowl... and then when Miller comes to the Combine and weighs 242 or whatever I suppose it will magically make all the doubters about his size go away? There's a 3 lb difference, big deal, he's a great player and not drafting a talent like Mlller because he's a mere 3 lbs lighter than a guy that was pick #32 overall is insane.

brasho
02-03-2011, 05:24 AM
You project him inside in the 3-4? So you don't think he has the body to rush the passer or set the edge outside in the 3-4 but you think he DOES have the body to take on OGs and FBs inside in the 3-4? That is a bit contradicting. He might make a good 4-3 Will but having a guy like Miller drop back into coverage is a gigantic waste of talent. He needs to be outside in the 3-4 if a team wants to maximize his gifts.

bigbluedefense
02-03-2011, 07:29 AM
I don't see him as a 3-4 LB at all. I think he's going to disappoint as a 3-4 LB bc he won't yield immediate results if any, unless he is developed slowly like Timmons was. Timmons took 2-3 years to develop his body into a 3-4 ILB.

Do you spend a top 5 pick on that if you're a 3-4 team? Makes no sense to me.

To me, he's a 4-3 WILL all the way. I've made the comparison in the past, he's Wilbur Marshall.

Everyone sees a quick first step and thinks that alone can morph someone into a pass rusher. It's not that simple. This guy's skillset screams 4-3 WILL right now, unless he goes through a dramatic chance in his body.

He needs to gain at least 15 more lbs, and he needs to improve his core strength a lot. I just think he's too much of a project as a 3-4 LB to warrant a top 5 pick.

I'm not saying he can't be good, but the bust potential is high in a 3-4 and I think he'll take some time to develop.

You're right, in comparison to modern players, he is exactly like Lawrence Timmons. But even Timmons fans will admit that Timmons was probably better off as a 4-3 WILL than a 3-4 ILB. He had to morph himself into a 3-4 ILB with years of development.

And LeBeau does a great job of utilizing Timmons too. The guy is one of my favorite linebackers in the league.

I just think Von would be so much better as a 4-3 WILL. Get up to 245, improve your core strength, and become a 4-3 WILL in an attacking 43 defense, that would be the best use of his skills.

Day One Pick
02-03-2011, 08:36 AM
Interesting article. I was one of few who did not like Lawrence Timmons as a 3-4 OLB, and was honestly upset as a Steelers fan when they drafted him 15th overall. Though he has turned into a fine ILB for the Steelers, it did take him 4 seasons to get to where he is today. There's not much debate that the Steelers over-drafted him.

I can absolutely see where you are coming from with your view point. That said, I see Von Miller in a different light than I saw Timmons. That said, you could turn out to be absolutely right in your evaluation.

I do however feel you are underestimating Miller's ability versus the run and consequently underestimating the completness of his game. I personally feel that because of Miller's sack totals he has unfairly been viewed as a "one trick pony."

There are some differences however in the body type of Von Miller in comparison to Lawrence Timmons. Lawrence Timmons was 6-0 7/8, 234 at the combine. Von Miller was 6-2 5/8, 237 at the Senior Bowl. Miller is 1 3/4 inches taller and has more of a frame to carry more weight. Like you said he will likely show up at the combine near 250 pounds which will make him considerably bigger than Timmons was then and even now.

Where Timmons struggled during his brief stint at OLB for the Steelers was with leverage and strength. It used to be that a 3-4 OLB was a minimum of 6-3 with an ideal height of 6-5. In recent years shorter players such as James Harrison (6-0 at best) have excelled. In order for a shorter player to excel as a 3-4 OLB, they need to be strong. Lawrence Timmons only did 11 reps of 225 at his 2007 Florida State pro day. That's the core strength of a typical CB prospect. I think with Miller that will be a very important number in regards to his draft stock and chances to succeed as a 3-4 OLB.

If Miller bulks up a bit and demonstrates adequate core strengh on the bench press I think he will solidify his stock as a top 10 prospect. If he does those things you all of the sudden have a player who could translate to several LB position in several defensive fronts. versatility always helps a players stock and broadens the amount of teams who will consider drafting him.

All that said, Von Miller most reminds me of Lance Briggs.

SRogers92
02-03-2011, 08:41 AM
No offense, TC ... I'm not sure you watched Von a lot ... his run defense isn't bad, he was just asked to attack QBs all the time ... his ability to get through traffic and fight off blocks to make tackles is amazing ... he really could play any LB position, in any system, IMO, but -- you're taking away his best assets by putting him inside and not letting him attack.

cajuncorey
02-03-2011, 10:11 AM
okay thanks for making the 30th von miller thread and stealing my comparision http://draftcountdown.com/forum/showthread.php?p=2488234#post2488234

regards,
cajuncorey

SenorGato
02-03-2011, 11:02 AM
Anybody that assumes that Von Miller doesn't have the size and strength to be an OLB in a 3-4 has never watched him play. He plays strong. He weighs 237, big deal. Clay Matthews weighed 240 at the Combine 2 years ago, that's only 3 lbs more than Miller weighed at the Senior Bowl... and then when Miller comes to the Combine and weighs 242 or whatever I suppose it will magically make all the doubters about his size go away? There's a 3 lb difference, big deal, he's a great player and not drafting a talent like Mlller because he's a mere 3 lbs lighter than a guy that was pick #32 overall is insane.

+1

It's been the in thing to say he can't make it as a 3-4 OLB but come on man...he's going to the NFL...a little bit of their secret steroid cocktail that avoids the Supreme Court and he's good to go....Parys Haralson and Dumerville weren't huge either but they put weight on at the NFL level...

Miller's got more important qualities that you look for in a 3-4 OLB...one he can move really well...he's an excellent athlete....two he's experienced and considered a smart player....eaaaaaaaaaaaaaasily the most underrated aspect of guys making the transition to 3-4 OLB....three he can pass rush...While personally I prefer the jumbo 3-4 OLBs, if this guy threw up a strong enough combine or pro day work out...I doubt a 3-4 team would hesitate.

I actually think HE'S the Clay Matthews in this class...I remember in Clay's draft I had him at every position BUT DE or 3-4 OLB....I thought he'd make an excellent 3-4 ILB...shows wtf I know.

Jakey
02-03-2011, 11:12 AM
Timmons is actually 250lbs now, he might have bulked up, but he is still a much better ILB than he would be at OLB. I dont see the comparison.