Have you heard? It’s Von Miller Day here at the Inside the 49ers blog!
Yes, in an effort to receive a percentage of his rookie bonus, we’re ramping up the hype machine for the Texas A&M linebacker with the second Von-Miller-Is-Really-Good blog in hours.
OK, just kidding.
I actually got a call back from Nebraska offensive coordinator Shawn Watson after I spoke with Kansas’ Chuck Long and, well, why keep such information all to myself?
It’s no surprise that Watson was similarly effusive in his praise of Miller, who was hardly a secret before he began starring at Senior Bowl practices this week. Miller, after all, is the Butkus Award winner who led the nation in sacks in 2009. Not exactly Mr. Anonymous.
Still, it’s interesting to get insights from coaches who game-planned against him. What, exactly, made this guy so dominant?
For his part, Watson ticked off a variety of attributes – acceleration, technique and a “great motor” – but he kept coming back to Miller’s hands. At 237 pounds, Miller isn’t huge, but Watson made it sound like he could crush skulls with his meat hooks.
Miller evidently tuned heads – and dropped jaws — by tossing aside a 300-something-pound lineman during a Senior Bowl practice this week. And I thought about that as Watson raved about Miller’s mitts.
“I don’t know if there’s a better hands player that I’ve seen,” said Watson, who has 29 years of college coaching experience. “… When you watch him on film, he catches your attention because he’s making plays all over the place. Then you start studying, ‘OK, what makes this guy really good and how can we counter that?’ This guy’s got such great hands. He’s violent with his hands. He sheds blockers and gets to the football like very few.”
Miller played in a 3-4 defense this past season at Texas A&M – a rarity at the NCAA level – and Watson termed him the “perfect weakside or rush backer” in such a scheme.
Watson, like Long, suggested Miller’s tenacity — coupled with his talent — has made him a soon-to-be multimillionaire.
“He wants to make every play on the field,” he said. “I mean, I’m just a college guy, but I’ll tell you what: He’s one of those guys that if he continues to play with that same motor, with the skill set that he has, he’s a can’t-miss guy.”