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Von Miller’s ceiling

NFL Honors Press Room Football AP

We noted early in the 2011 season when the Broncos benched their star rookie Von Miller during the second half of a loss to the Chargers.

Miller didn’t leave the field often after that game. The Denver Post writes that Miller was on the field for 79.7% of the team’s defensive snaps throughout the year. Considering he missed an entire game to injury, that’s a very high number. (It was good for third on the team.)

There were two concerns with Miller heading into his rookie year: He might not not fit Denver’s scheme and that he may “only” be a pass rusher. Both concerns proved overblown.

The Defensive Rookie of the Year quickly showed he was already one of the most gifted pass rushers in the league. The Broncos found ways to use him. Miller’s ability to make plays against the run was a bigger surprise. He earned his playing time by performing a lot better against the run than expected.

The challenge for Miller will be to build on an incredible rookie year. He slowed down in the stretch run after hurting his thumb.

Miller has already shown he can be one of the best outside linebackers in the league. His ceiling at this point seems almost unlimited.

If he continues to improve, Miller can be the best defensive player in the league when he hits his prime.

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43 Responses to “Von Miller’s ceiling”
  1. touchdownbroncos says: Feb 19, 2012 2:04 PM

    Hells jyah

  2. kd75 says: Feb 19, 2012 2:21 PM

    “If he continues to improve, Miller can be the best defensive player in the league when he hits his prime.”

    A cartiain second year defensive end in NY might have something to say about that.

  3. bigbrad184 says: Feb 19, 2012 2:22 PM

    Aldon Smith was even better than Von Miller and got robbed from the DROY award. He had 16 sacks in 18 games (including playoffs) and, unlike Miller, he got better as the year went on as all 16 of his sacks came in his last 15 games.

    Aldon Smith, Justin Smith, Navorro Bowman, and Patrick Willis all in the same front seven? Scary.

  4. agelardi says: Feb 19, 2012 2:33 PM

    The Dolphins could use ” ‘only’ a pass rusher.” Please come to the Dolphins. Better weather than Denver.

  5. wannabeqb says: Feb 19, 2012 2:33 PM

    @bigbrad184

    Aldon Smith had a very good year rushing the passer, but he never started a game for the 49ers. Sacks are a great stat but there is more to playing defense.

  6. mkporter says: Feb 19, 2012 2:34 PM

    Yeah, Aldon Smith was better then Von Miller…. except for the part where they had to take him off the field all the time because he can only rush the passer. And except for the part where he isn’t even as good of a pass rusher.

  7. dowhatifeellike says: Feb 19, 2012 2:36 PM

    Aldon Smith had a good year, in part, because of the quality of those players around him. Von Miller had Elvis Dumerville and… who?

  8. jjrs89 says: Feb 19, 2012 2:54 PM

    I expected this to be a piece talking about von millers new house

  9. bobhk says: Feb 19, 2012 3:19 PM

    mkporter says:
    Feb 19, 2012 2:34 PM
    Yeah, Aldon Smith was better then Von Miller…. except for the part where they had to take him off the field all the time because he can only rush the passer. And except for the part where he isn’t even as good of a pass rusher.
    —————-
    You may want to work on your math skills genius. Smith had 14 in 16 games and Miller had 11.5 in 14.
    Sacks per game is better for Smith. Not to mention that Smith was on fewer downs than Miller. Smith was a better pass rusher than Miller.

    That said, as a niner fan, I have no problem with Miller winning the award. I think either one would have been deserving.

    @ kd75
    JPP is awesome but that should not take anything away from Miller. People don’t win DPOY every year. Tuck is great as well though not as good as JPP.

    We are seeing increased quality of DL play despite the NFL effort to protect the QB.

  10. trollhammer20 says: Feb 19, 2012 3:33 PM

    I’d much rather have Miller than Smith. Smith is a one-trick pony who benefited heavily from lining up next to Justin Smith, and being able to pin his ears back and do nothing but basically rush the passer. A lot easier to stay healthy over a season when you’re only playing half the snaps.

    You get the feeling Smith’s tall, rangey body would be very easy for linemen to gain leverage on in running situations, when the offensive linemen are more free to attack defenders, as opposed to passing situations, where the opposite takes place. The Niners seemed to be very aware of this, as they chose to keep Smith on the bench in rushing situations.

    Miller is the more complete player, full stop.

  11. east96st says: Feb 19, 2012 3:37 PM

    kd75 – Gregg’s post from January 31, 2012

    “One year later, Pierre-Paul is a leading Defensive Player of the Year candidate. He finished with 16.5 sacks, 86 tackles, and more game-changing defensive plays than anyone in football…. He’s the type of supremely gifted athlete that doesn’t see himself as special. He doesn’t realize how much better he can get.”

  12. bobhk says: Feb 19, 2012 3:49 PM

    trollhammer20 says:
    Feb 19, 2012 3:33 PM
    I’d much rather have Miller than Smith. Smith is a one-trick pony who benefited heavily from lining up next to Justin Smith, and being able to pin his ears back and do nothing but basically rush the passer. A lot easier to stay healthy over a season when you’re only playing half the snaps.

    You get the feeling Smith’s tall, rangey body would be very easy for linemen to gain leverage on in running situations, when the offensive linemen are more free to attack defenders, as opposed to passing situations, where the opposite takes place. The Niners seemed to be very aware of this, as they chose to keep Smith on the bench in rushing situations.

    Miller is the more complete player, full stop.
    ———-
    Without putting down Miller who’s great, I think it’s too soon to determine (full stop).
    Yeah, Smith went out on early/rushing downs while Miller stayed on on. Could it be that’s the reason Denver’s rush D sucked (#22 in the league) while SF’s rush D was #1 in the league.

    Yeah, I know what people will claim about the talent on that niner D, but Miller would be part of the problem on that Denver rush D. You can’t say that rest of the D sucked but Miller was great at stopping the run.

    Could it be that Denver had no one capable behind Miller to stop the run? Easier to start if the talent is lacking.

    If you claim that Smith has no leverage you have not seen any SF games. Smith is very capable of bull rush as we saw many times.

    I would be satisfied with either guys. I like Miller but you’d be stupid to put down Smith just because you are a Denver fan. Smith was a better pass rusher.

  13. humb0lt says: Feb 19, 2012 4:04 PM

    Ditto jjrs89, I thought there was going to be a picture of Von Miller’s canopy.

  14. bigdave8124 says: Feb 19, 2012 4:23 PM

    hey bobhk….as a niner fan you should know that Aldon Smith did have 16 sacks in 18 games…the genius you referred to in your post was counting the post season…unlike your intellectual self…please don’t call out fellow niner fans if you don’t know the correct info…as for the debate regarding miller and smith…both are going to be great players, however smith is the better pash rusher….he is an absolute beast…with that being said I would be happy with either of these guys on my team…GO NINERS!!!

  15. trubroncfan07 says: Feb 19, 2012 4:24 PM

    Von Miller is a beast!

  16. kenrw1 says: Feb 19, 2012 4:31 PM

    One thing I don’t think anyone has mentioned yet is that Von Miller is going to be coached by Del Rio now. You can expect his numbers to go down next year and he will be traded or cut the following offseason.

  17. cali49er707 says: Feb 19, 2012 5:37 PM

    both great players, their is no doubt in that at all. I just think personally that ALDON SMITH was on nobody’s list in that draft, including 9ER FANS

  18. cali49er707 says: Feb 19, 2012 5:39 PM

    basically nobody had him in the top 10 picks

  19. bobhk says: Feb 19, 2012 5:46 PM

    bigdave8124 says:
    Feb 19, 2012 4:23 PM
    hey bobhk….as a niner fan you should know that Aldon Smith did have 16 sacks in 18 games…the genius you referred to in your post was counting the post season…unlike your intellectual self…please don’t call out fellow niner fans if you don’t know the correct info…as for the debate regarding miller and smith…both are going to be great players, however smith is the better pash rusher….he is an absolute beast…with that being said I would be happy with either of these guys on my team…GO NINERS!!!
    —————
    @bigdave8124, you have reading comprehension issues. But, don’t let that stop you from showing your brilliance here.
    I was pointing out to @mkporter, who’s post was full of sarcasm, that Smith was a better pass rusher than Miller. Numbers bear it out. (14 sack per 16 games regular season or 16 over 18 games overall) is better than 11.5 over 15 games. That makes Smith a better pass rusher than Miller.

    As a niners fan I’d be happy with Miller or Smith but now that we have Smith I’d root for him more.

  20. babyhorsemorgan says: Feb 19, 2012 5:47 PM

    A third concern about Miller would be his style sense.

  21. ramsfan21 says: Feb 19, 2012 6:34 PM

    Aldon Smith is good and he had a great rookie yr. But Von Miller had a better year. And he only had Elvis Dumerville and that’s it. If Miller was playing in the 49ers defensive, he might have had a even better year then Smith! I give both of them credit but Von Miller hands down did better then Smith.

  22. geo1113 says: Feb 19, 2012 6:40 PM

    You may want to work on your math skills genius. Smith had 14 in 16 games and Miller had 11.5 in 14.
    Sacks per game is better for Smith. Not to mention that Smith was on fewer downs than Miller. Smith was a better pass rusher than Miller.
    ————————

    Would you say that Jason Babin is a better pass rusher than Julius Peppers (18 vs. 11 sacks)?

  23. sschmiggles says: Feb 19, 2012 7:04 PM

    The questions about his ability to defend the run have proven to be legit. He has not shown he can be one of the “best outside linebackers in the league.” That is pure hyperbole.

    He’s shown he can be one of the best pass rushers. But there is a lot more to being the best LB than pass rushing. He has a lot of work to do setting the edge and defending the run.

  24. jjbadd says: Feb 19, 2012 7:18 PM

    As a Die hard Bronco fan, I agree that he will be among the leagues best, but I too, am liking Pierre-Paul from the Giants…they both are beasts!!

  25. christopher525 says: Feb 19, 2012 8:10 PM

    @kenrw, what you’re not realizing is Del Rio is a HELL of a defensive coordinator. As the head man, he was mediocre at best, but running a defense with a ton of talent to spare, he’s scary as hell. Look at Wade Phillips, Dom Capers, guys of that respect. Horrible front men, but amazing as as backing band. Speaking as a Panthers fan, Denver’s defense is going to be awesome to watch. Think what we had with Peppers, Jenkins, Minter, Witherspoon, and Rucker. Also, he was the LB coach in Baltimore from 99-01, coaching Sharper, Boulware, and Lewis, I’d say that bodes VERY well for Miller’s future.

  26. shadowgm1 says: Feb 19, 2012 8:25 PM

    He’s good, but we just saw his ceiling. Watt was a far more deserving DROY anyhow. Enough said.

  27. bobhk says: Feb 19, 2012 8:44 PM

    geo1113 says:
    Feb 19, 2012 6:40 PM
    You may want to work on your math skills genius. Smith had 14 in 16 games and Miller had 11.5 in 14.
    Sacks per game is better for Smith. Not to mention that Smith was on fewer downs than Miller. Smith was a better pass rusher than Miller.
    ————————

    Would you say that Jason Babin is a better pass rusher than Julius Peppers (18 vs. 11 sacks)?
    —————
    Yes, Babin was better than Peppers last year. We were comparing Smiths last year to Millers last year (rookie years for both). No other comparison is possible.

    To all those who claim that Miller was better because he was on the field on running downs as well. Well, ever wonder why the Denver run D sucked (#22 ranked). Miller was part of the problem. Also, it depends who else Denver had as an option in place of Miller.

    I have no issue with Miller winning the award, but don’t be stupid, Smith is a stud as well. So is Watt. Overall quality is pretty high.

  28. colfaxdenver says: Feb 19, 2012 9:04 PM

    One Thing A Smith fans fail to mention is TFL. Von Miller had 21 TFL 3rd only behind Damarcus Ware and I think Harrison. If you ask me thats just as good as a sack..

  29. geo1113 says: Feb 19, 2012 10:45 PM

    @bobhk,

    The correct answer is you can’t compare apples to oranges.

  30. buzzbissinger says: Feb 19, 2012 11:08 PM

    This is one Raiders fan that envys your daimond in the rough. Good job Broncos.

  31. milehigh85 says: Feb 19, 2012 11:34 PM

    Von Miller’s first play as a pro was a forced fumble. This kid is, and always will be a beast. As for the moron that said his numbers will go down and he will be traded under Del Rio, Dude… Seriously? Mommy needs to take away your computer. You’re friggin grounded from pft.

  32. seeschool says: Feb 19, 2012 11:46 PM

    “You may want to work on your math skills genius. Smith had 14 in 16 games and Miller had 11.5 in 14.
    Sacks per game is better for Smith. Not to mention that Smith was on fewer downs than Miller. Smith was a better pass rusher than Miller.”

    You know, it’s amazing how much information there is out there on pass rushers, and people still reference sacks when comparing two players. Sacks are such a TINY fraction of a pass rushers impact, it’s just ridiculous to use it as a standard to measure success. To suggest that Smith is the better pass rusher because he had more sacks then Miller suggests that you cannot look beyond the stats. Do a little research on the two…or better yet…watch the games.

  33. champion24 says: Feb 20, 2012 12:40 AM

    No need to add (le) at the end of Dumervil.

  34. theyknowtheyknowtheyknow says: Feb 20, 2012 1:32 AM

    Bobhk is all about the box score.he’ll tell you Eli is better than Dan Marino because of his superbowl rings.

    He reads the paper instead of watching the game

  35. supremeomega says: Feb 20, 2012 2:49 AM

    49 Ers fans…

    Nice to see you slam Miller and tout Smith. Welcome back to the NFL…but you do realize you ain’t going 13-3 again or winning a SB with that awful QB

  36. bobhk says: Feb 20, 2012 4:13 AM

    geo1113 says:Feb 19, 2012 10:45 PM

    @bobhk,

    The correct answer is you can’t compare apples to oranges.
    ——-
    @geo1113
    not clear what you mean. My post above, to which you responded was that smith had a better pass rushing year than miller.
    Please elaborate what you mean.

  37. joetoronto says: Feb 20, 2012 4:49 AM

    Just run the ball right at him and we’ll see how many sacks he gets.

    Just another overrated Donkey.

  38. onebadace says: Feb 20, 2012 5:46 AM

    Haha @bobhk, you’re such a homer it’s ridiculous.

    Von Miller is the better player, better pass rusher, and better person. (Aldon Smith was arrested for DUI)

    Also, don’t bother replying. You saying Babin is better than JULIUS PEPPERS is the dumbest thing I’ve read today.

  39. raiderfankirk says: Feb 20, 2012 7:02 AM

    Miller is a bad azz. I can only hope Tebow remains the QB in Denver.

  40. iplaybad says: Feb 20, 2012 7:54 AM

    I love how folks pin the difference between the 49ers and Broncos run defense on either Smith or Miller. Having N. Bowman, J. Smith, and a random guy named P. Willis combine for over 250 tackles seemed to help. Oh, and BTW, L. Grant, the back-up MLB, would start in Denver. Von had a huge year overall. He deserved the DROY and has D. Thomas upside.

  41. drognib says: Feb 20, 2012 6:05 PM

    Aldon Smith and Von Miller are both great players, but some are suggesting Smith was a better pass rusher because he had a better per game average. First, as has already been pointed out, it didn’t hurt Aldon Smith to have Justin Smith next to him. Second, Von Miller was averaging a sack per game until he broke his thumb. After that his pass rush fell off dramatically. Same thing happened to Dumervil a few years ago when he broke his hand. He had a low sack total that season. A pass rusher HAS to have the full use of his hands to fight off pass blockers. Miller is at least as good or better than Smith as a pass rusher, and he’s much better in other aspects of the game. That said, I’d love to have someone like Smith to insert in passing situations. With Dumervil, Miller and a third pass rusher, we’d REALLY be able to bring the heat.

  42. yahmule says: Feb 21, 2012 10:04 AM

    Von Miller was on pace to set the rookie sack record before the thumb injury. An overlooked aspect of that injury was how quickly Miller returned to the field. Broken thumbs, unlike broken fingers, can often sideline a player for 4-6 weeks, but Miller was back in action after only one week. He didn’t want to miss any time at all, but the team made him sit for one week after undergoing surgery.

    I’m not going to downgrade Aldon Smith, JJ Watt or any other great players to try and make Von Miller look better. It’s simply not necessary.

  43. ready4doomboom says: Feb 21, 2012 6:00 PM

    Smith and Miller are bests. DROY was awarded to Miller prob based off Smith’s DUI. How terrible would that look for the NFL if they awarded him that. Denver would have been much worse if Miller missed more than one game. JJ Watt, Miller, and Smith are all beasts.

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