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Texas A&M's Von Miller figures to be one of the first few players drafted in the 2011 NFL Draft later this month, but is it possible that he could be among the first five players selected?
Miller burst onto the scene as a junior in 2009 when he had 43 tackled and an eye-popping 17 sacks. He started slowly in 2010, but came on very strong towards the end of the year, registering eight sacks in his final 5 games against teams like Oklahoma, Nebraska and Texas. He won the Butkus award this year which is given to the Nation's best linebacker.
After the season, he was graded out as an early to mid-first round prospect, but he has shot up draft boards with strong performances in all of the postseason tests and activities. First, he opened a lot of eyes at the Senior Bowl, then he showed just how athletic he was at the Combine. His Combine measurements, from our Texas A&M Blog I Am The 12th Man:
He measured in a 6'2 5/8" and 246 pounds. He did 21 reps of 225. Miller had a 37" vertical and broad jumped 10'6" He turned in unofficial times in the 40 of 4.46 and 4.53.
That is perfectly acceptable size and incredible athleticism for his position. During the Combine, Miller went from being a mid-first round prospect to someone mentioned as the best defensive player in the entire draft.
The only question that remains for Miller is how he will adjust to playing linebacker in the NFL. In College he played defensive end with the express purpose of getting after the quarterback. He doesn't quite have the size to play DE in the NFL, so he will have to transition to outside linebacker, which means a wider range of coverage responsibilities. But he showed surprising fluidity in coverage during the Combine, and there aren't many out there who question his ability to make the transition successfully.
Let's take a look at what our NFL Draft blog Mocking the Draft had to say about Miller in an early profile.
Will enter the NFL raw in pass coverage and suspect against the run. Was mostly used at A&M as an upfield player and will start his pro career in the same role. If a team needs someone to purely get after the quarterback, that's Miller. He could be a big-time mover up draft boards, similar to (Clay) Matthews two years ago and Koa Misi in 2010.
As of right now, MTD has Miller as the No. 3 overall prospect on their big board.
Miller has been a fixture in the top five of recent Mock Drafts, frequently going as high as No. 3 to Buffalo. I think his floor is probably Arizona with the fith pick, who desperately need an outside linebacker who can get after the quarterback. Most of the teams in the top-ten could use a player like Miller, but the teams that have the biggest need there are probably the Bills, Cardinals, Browns and Redskins.
We'll be covering Von Miller as the draft approaches and where he might get picked. For more on the Draft check out Mocking the Draft and SB Nation. For more on the Aggies, head over to I Am The 12th Man.