Posted Mon May 2nd by Monty
Over the course of the week we’ll be breaking down the 2011 Denver Broncos draft class pick-by-pick, leading up to our overall 2011 Broncos draft grade. Digest. Debate. Enjoy.
Von Miller. Marcell Dareus. Patrick Peterson. Three “can’t miss” defensive players. Three crucial cogs to a defense-rebuilding project. Three potential franchise-changers.
If you’re John Elway and company, how do you choose?
“All three of those guys you mentioned (Miller, Dareus and Peterson), I wanted all three of them, but we could not get them,” head coach John Fox said, laughing. “They are all impact guys. From Von to Dareus and also Patrick—we spent a lot of time with all three of them. It really did not come down to who we liked the best or not, it was who would fit us best.” (emphasis added)
It’s an interesting take from Fox, because the consensus heading into the draft was that Miller was best suited as a pass-rushing 3-4 outside linebacker. In some ways, Miller was considered the least best fit for the Broncos’ 4-3.
GM Brian Xanders shed some more light to the Broncos’ reasoning: “The thing with Von and the more we talked was his explosion, his playmaking ability, his mismatches that he causes in scheme protections with (DE) Elvis (Dumervil) on the other side…. He can be a 255-pound linebacker that can cover tight ends, that can rush the passer and you can run different schemes with him. You can run 3-4, even on dime (packages), you can run 3-3 and 3-2 (fronts). You can move him everywhere and he is a good football player. He is a great teammate and we thought he had an explosive mismatch ability.”
“I really think that we looked at Von,” John Elway said, “and the difference to me was that he is one of those guys that comes along once in 10 years.”
So perhaps Von Miller isn’t the prototypical 4-3 outside linebacker, or the prototypical 4-3 defensive end. But Elway, Xanders and Fox see beyond that cookie-cutter routine; they see a player who can fit in any formation.
Indeed, the new Broncos are looking beyond any given current scheme and evaluating the football player as he is. It’s a concept that completely escaped the grasp of the previous regime, as pick after pick was tailored to the scheme Josh McDaniels wanted to run.
John Fox isn’t bending his players to his playbook. He’s bending his playbook to his players.
And Von Miller is the type of player with such dynamic strengths that, with the right coaching, he could excel in any system.
- Incredible athleticism and speed, both closing in pursuit and immediately off the snap.
- Reliable tackler and good in space.
- Hard worker and team leader.
- Undersized – ‘tweener makeup.
- Will struggle against bigger linemen.
- Can run himself out of players. Instincts/experience could be better.
Undoubtedly many of you saw this highlight reel before the draft, but even so, it merits another look. Miller’s ability to run the arc and close on the quarterback is jaw-dropping. What’s more, you’ll see him line up all over the field in his dynamic “Jack” linebacker role. He will certainly impose mismatch problems on opposing offenses given the right opportunities.
Could the Broncos have picked Marcell Dareus or Patrick Peterson and known they had selected, perhaps, a better “fit” for their 4-3 reconstruction project? Yes. But they had Von Miller graded higher. He’s a once-in-10-years prospect, according to Elway (which may very well be hyperbole, but we’ll forgive the exec VP for being excited after his first draft), and you just don’t pass up talent of that caliber because the scheme isn’t a perfect fit. Especially when the player has shown he can excel in multiple formations.
Plus, it’s not like the need wasn’t there. The Broncos were dead last in both scoring defense and sacks last year. Miller will provide an immediate boost and, hopefully, long-term success.