Broncos 2011 first-round pick Von Miller played strong-side linebacker on early downs and defensive end in pass-rushing situations as a rookie. He produced 11.5 sacks and a pair of forced fumbles en route to Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.
Gone is 2011 defensive coordinator Dennis Allen, and ex-Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio has arrived as the Broncos’ new defensive shot-caller. Will Miller’s role change?
Based on the player to which Del Rio compares Miller, we’re guessing not.
“So Peter Boulware is the guy that comes to mind,” Del Rio said, per Jeff Legwold of the Denver Post. “Von’s going to be a very productive player for a long time.”
A four-time Pro Bowler with the Ravens, Boulware was a ferocious, hybrid pass rusher in his heyday, and Del Rio was his position coach for three years in Baltimore. In the middle year (2000), the Ravens fielded perhaps the best defense in the history of the game. In Boulware and Del Rio’s final year together (2001), Boulware exploded for 15 sacks and four forced fumbles in essentially the exact same position Miller played with the Broncos last year.
Del Rio left to become Carolina’s defensive coordinator the following year, and Boulware never reached those levels of greatness again.
Miller might already be just as good of a player as Boulware in his prime. Which means that Del Rio’s tried-and-true scheme plus improved offense that will allow for more pass-rush opportunities could turn Miller into an even more lethal defender in his second season.