Ex-NFL scout: Smallish LB Von Miller plays strong

Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller is scheduled to meet with the media today at the NFL Combine.

The fast-rising Miller, who also played stand-up defensive end in college, is a logical fit for the pass-rush starved 49ers, if he’s still available at the No. 7 pick.

Earlier this week, I spoke to Chris Landry a former NFL scout with the Browns and Oilers/Titans who serves as a scouting consultant to several NFL teams. A former coordinator of the NFL Combine, the Louisiana-based Landry is also a college football and NFL analyst on FOX Sports Radio.

Here are Landry’s thoughts on Miller, who led the nation in sacks with 17 as a junior and won the Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker this past season. Miller checked in at 6-2 5/8 and 237 pounds at the Senior Bowl:

Q: What are your thoughts on Von Miller and his ability to become a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL?

CL: Von has been as good a pass-rusher as there’s been in college football for the past couple years. Super first-step quickness. He’s got the ability to play up or down. The thing that really impressed me the most is when we were at the Senior Bowl he did linebacker stuff that we didn’t see him do in college. You never know how a guy is going to respond to it and he did extremely well in his drops — showing the ability to turn and get depth on his drops.

That was a real key moment for him because it opens up the door in some 3-4. Now, he hasn’t done it. It will take time to do it. But the thing you have to see is – can a guy drop? Can he be natural doing it? Or is he going to be a stiff guy that’s strictly going to be a 3-4, stand-up rusher? … So he’s got tremendous skills as a rusher. He’s got a knack for it. He’s got the ability to shorten the corner, I mean, he’s got tremendous ability off the edge as a rusher. If they were to go that route — with a guy like they have inside in (Patrick) Willis — they would really have the foundation of something special there.

Q: Do you any have concerns about his size?

CL: His frame is fine. I think he can get a little bit bigger. Not a lot, but a little bit bigger. I think at linebacker his size is fine.

Q: Nebraska offensive coordinator Shawn Watson was particularly impressed by the strength of Miller’s hands. Do you see what he was talking about?

CL: What he’s talking about is you see that on film, any good pass rusher got good use of hands and what he can do is engage blockers. This is part of why when you ask about his size, there’s no really no issue. Some guys play stronger and some guys that are big don’t play as strong. This guy plays with a great deal of explosion and a great deal of strength.

He’s able to engage and violently shed blockers. That’s what you look for. You don’t want guys that are so tightly wound that they can’t coil and explode into you. He can do that. And his hands are naturally strong. And his ability to be able to control blockers and ward off blockers is very, very good. And that’s part of what makes him a very effective pass-rusher because not every one of his sacks and rushes and hurries are just a result of speed rushes off the edge. He’s got counter moves which require good use of hands.

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