First of all, I have nothing against the guy. I love his motor. His ability to sniff out the QB coming off the edge is second to none in this year's draft class. Von Miller is a coach's dream and a quarterback's nightmare. He's a 3-4 OLB that plays like the 4th down lineman on 3rd downs. He does it effectively and makes a living sacking quarterbacks who lack the pocket awareness to step up in the pocket.
Does he have speed? Sure, he does. Does he play the run very well? For a 3-4 OLB, he does.
But the Denver Broncos don't play the 3-4 defense anymore. If drafted, the Broncos have two options: Make him a 4-3 DE or make him a SAM 4-3 OLB. Neither position suits his style of play very well. He doesn't anchor well enough to be a 4-3 DE and he doesn't cover well enough to be a SAM 4-3 DE... not well enough to be the 2nd overall pick. We might as well draft Patrick Peterson to be our SAM linebacker. He has some size to him and at least we know he can cover... I'm only half kidding with that proclamation
The more I think about this, the more I think he would be a great pick for a team other than the Denver Broncos.
What is the deal with people's infatuation to take a talented player and move him to a different position?
Sure, it has worked with Elvis Dumervil. The Broncos had a 4-3 scheme in the past and Dumervil fit very well in it. The rest of the defense was underwhelming, so the Broncos moved to a 3-4. This meant Doom had to make the switch to OLB. He did that quite successfully, even leading the league in sacks during 2009. For whatever reason, moving players from 4-3 defensive end to 3-4 outside linebacker became what all the cool kids were doing, so we drafted a 4-3 DE, Robert Ayers, and told him that as a rookie he should make the same switch that Doom made. It worked decently, but I think most of us were underwhelmed with his production as a first round DE/OLB/whatever he is.
So, here we are moving back to a 4-3. A scheme that both Doom and Ayers are familiar with (and good at), yet we are thinking of drafting a natural at 3-4 OLB and hoping that he can make the switch to 4-3 OLB? I don't understand it. A guy like Elvis Dumervil successfully making a switch to a new position is an exception. It's not the rule. Of all the positions that the Broncos have some skill at... it's the 4-3 DE position. If we draft Von, unless we're going back to a variation of the 5-2 formation, that means we're sending someone (Doom, Ayers or Von) to the bench. Our scheme should be putting talented players on the field, not taking them off.
Then you throw Jason Hunter into the mix.
I, for one, was pretty impressed with how this guy played last year, opposite Robert Ayers. While playing the Titans, especially, he was able to seal the edge and keep Chris Johnson running north/south instead of letting him use his speed to run it up the sidelines. Granted, he does have to recover from a stab wound that he suffered yesterday, but if the reports I'm hearing are correct, the wound isn't serious and he should e able to recover pretty quickly. I feel really comfortable having him as a backup to Elvis Dumervil or Robert Ayers. But I'm not comfortable adding the 2nd overall pick to our bench. Ideally, the 2nd overall pick should start.
When I put on the film and look at the Broncos 2010 defense, more than anything, I saw a need to get some people inside to penetrate and disrupt plays. Everyone talks about how "you need a pass rusher". Well, I don't think we do. We have Robert Ayers, who has a great bull rush, already. We also have Elvis Dumervil, who is one of the league's best speed edge rushers. What's the kryptonite of an edge rusher? A QB who steps up in the pocket. Guess what? The QB doesn't have a place to step up if you have a DT who pushes the pocket up in his face. Drafting one of the best DTs in this year's draft will help everyone on our defense. It will eat up blockers and help us with the run game. It will also push the pocket, making life easier for our edge rushers, Dumervil and Ayers. Further more, it will make life easier for our defensive backs by shortening the route tree of the opposing wide receivers.
Who Should be a Bronco
The Broncos should draft Marcel Dareus with the 2nd overall pick. I'd like to coin the phrase "Give me Dareus or give me death", if at all possible...
If Dareus is gone, I think we should take the best player available (that still fits our 4-3 scheme). That guy is Patrick Peterson, in my opinion. If we go that route, the Broncos have to be extremely cognizant of how the board is falling so that we can snag a DT in the second round or even trade up into the first round if "our guys" are being picked. I'd love to see a guy like Wilkerson, Paea or Austin fall to us in the second round, but if they start to be snatched up, we may have to chase after one of them.
Von Miller's Future
Von Miller is clearly a 3-4 OLB. He rushes the passer on 3rd down and shares coverage responsibilities on 1st and 2nd downs with 3 other linebackers. He's not a guy that covers tight ends. He does everything he can to sniff out plays in the backfield and his numbers prove it.
He does everything you could want your 3-4 OLB to do. But a 4-3 DE, he is not. He does have the strength to take on tight ends and even fullbacks, but against offensive linemen, he doesn't push the pocket. Ayers and Dumervil are both better against the run as 4-3 defensive ends. Sure, Von Miller may get his 3rd down sack every now and again, but as I said before, if we can't push the pocket, NFL QBs are going to step up and Von Miller will have over run the play. Philip Rivers will not be fooled. As a 4-3 OLB, Von Miller will be asked to cover quite a bit. This is something that he hasn't been asked to do in a while. He has only 1 career interception. It was a tipped pass against Texas, not due to good coverage.
As a SAM LB, I'd like him to have a bit more versatility in the passing game. Sure, he can rush the QB when called upon and he would look dangerous blitzing from that spot, but the cover skills have to be there as well. He's fast enough to run with almost anybody on the field, but speed doesn't always equate to proficiency. I think he can come around, but it's not going to happen overnight.
However, I'm afraid that he would not be much of an improvement for the Denver Broncos.