PFF's Top 101 of 2014: No. 10, Von Miller
Another healthy season, another Von Miller masterpiece. He couldn’t quite match the jaw-dropping 2012 performance that put him in the Top 5, but even coming back from an ACL tear, Miller is still in the elite echelon of edge defenders.
The thing that makes Miller such a transcendent talent is that there are no holes in his game. Edge defenders that are dominant pass rushers often don’t have the discipline to be assignment-sure against the run play in and play out like Miller does. His +22.0 grade in run defense was the second best among 4-3 outside linebackers and he hasn’t had a single season in his career grading below +20.0 against the run.
Sometimes you watch a player and it looks like they are playing a different game than everyone else. Miller would certainly fall into that category. His combination of size and speed is unheard of, but what really sets him apart for me is his balance. He’s moving faster than any other defensive lineman on the field, yet he looks completely under control the entire time. Miller can spin, deke, hesitate, etc. and still be on his feet, broken down, and ready to make a tackle.
The play below from Denver’s Week 3 loss in Seattle was the single most impressive athletic play I saw from a defensive lineman all season. Miller uses the chip block from Doug Baldwin to accentuate his spin and glide right past Justin Britt. Once he’s past Britt, Miller somehow comes to balance and forces the early throw. The number of players in the NFL that could pull off a move like that can likely be counted on one hand.
Best Game: Week 10 vs. Oakland (+7.9)
Though he may not have technically gotten a sack in this one, it doesn’t mean that Miller wasn’t a complete game-changer. Racking up seven pressures against the Raiders’ left guard, right guard, and right tackle, Miller could not be stopped. The sack below that was called back by a holding penalty shows once again his combination of speed, power, and balance.
The spin move was an absolutely devastating weapon in Miller’s arsenal last season. He totaled 16 pressures versus tackles via the inside spin move alone. The above play was the lone time he got a pressure with an outside spin move.
Key Stat: His 73 combined sacks, hits, and hurries were the third most in the NFL
That stat speaks to two main attributes for Miller. The first is obviously his ability to rush the passer. The second is that he can continue to produce with a high workload. Miller’s 926 snaps were the 14th-most of any edge defender. Totaling 15 sacks, 11 hits, and 47 hurries after tearing his ACL in December of 2013 is a truly incredible feat.
Besides Miller’s totals, his rate stats were pretty good as well. His 11.8 Pass Rushing Productivity was eighth among edge defenders while Miller’s 7.1 Run Stop Percentage was 14th at the position. He also was fairly solid when asked to drop into coverage. Of outside linebackers with 100 coverage snaps, Miller’s 0.7 Yards Allowed per Coverage Snap was the sixth-best mark and he missed just one tackle in coverage all season.
Since entering the league in 2011, Miller’s ranks in the PFF 101 have been: 12th, 4th, 68th (shortened season), and now 10th. That is truly a Hall of Fame-type path that he is following and he’s showing no signs of slowing down.
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