Daily Focus: What is Von Miller worth to Broncos?
Matt Claassen breaks down Von Miller's contract talks in Denver, Hau'oli Kikaha's injury, and Tyrod Taylor's ceiling.
Daily Focus: What is Von Miller worth to Broncos?
Editor’s note: Every weekday in “Daily Focus,” PFF analysts take the latest NFL news and translate what it really means for each team involved.
What is Von Miller worth to the Broncos? Rumors continue to swirl out of Denver regarding Von Miller’s contract negotiations, with the Broncos reportedly offering a six-year, $114.5 million offer to Miller before pulling the offer off the table. Now reports are surfacing that Miller may consider sitting out the entire season. If the initial report is correct, the contract offered would have put him near the highest paid defensive players in the league, right in the same range as Ndamukong Suh received a year ago. However, we don’t know what amount of guaranteed money was offered, which was apparently the sticking point in negotiations. So is Miller worth possibly being the highest-paid defender in the league for the Broncos, who currently have him on the one-year franchise tag worth just over $14 million?
During the regular season, Miller ranked third in overall and pass-rushing grade among all edge defenders. He then strung together a massively productive postseason run, bringing him to a grand total of 105 pressures on the year. Miller still finished behind Mack in overall grade, due to Mack’s elite run defense that has yet to be matched by anyone in the last two seasons. Miller’s postseason is a prime example of how a dominant pass-rusher can affect a game, and he did so when it mattered most. His performances in the AFC Championship game and Super Bowl were two of his five highest-graded games as a pass-rusher in his career. Pass-rushing comes at a premium in the league these days, and in Miller’s case, he looks to be worth every dollar of the investment to the Broncos—who have already had to part ways with Malik Jackson—if he ends up being the highest-paid defender in the league.
Hau’oli Kikaha suffers torn ACL for third time: New Orleans’ defensive end Hau’oli Kikaha recently tore his ACL for the third time in his football career. Kikaha had a decent start to his rookie year, tallying 20 total pressure and 20 defensive stops over the first half of the season. His play fell off over the second half, though, generating just six pressure and three defensive stops, while his per-snap pass-rushing productivity fell to half of what it was over the first eight weeks. Still, Kikaha was set to be a vital piece of the front-seven as the Saints attempt to rebuild the defense.
Kikaha’s absence now leaves New Orleans with little depth at defensive end beyond Cameron Jordan. Bobby Richardson will likely see significant playing time again after seeing nearly 600 snaps as a rookie. Richardson graded out near-average against the run, but he was one of the least-effective pass-rushers at defensive end, with just 10 total pressures on 305 pass rush snaps. Last year’s sixth-round draft pick, Obum Gwacham, and former UDFA Kasim Edebali could both see their roles increased as well, but neither have much experience or proven production in limited time. Edebali graded negatively in all but two games last year, and Gwacham played just 98 snaps and earned a below-average pass-rush grade last season. Fourth-round draft pick David Onyemata could also be a role player as a rookie.
New Orleans could also look at the free agent market, but few proven options exist with just Greg Hardy, Dwight Freeney, and Jeremy Mincey the only veterans to grade above replacement level. Even without Kikaha, though, the front four should have better production on the inside with new additions Nick Fairley and Sheldon Rankins.
Determining Tyrod Taylor’s ceiling: Tyrod Taylor told Buffalo News that he feels more comfortable and in charge of the offense heading into year two as the Bills’ starting quarterback. Taylor was a pleasant surprise for Buffalo in 2015, finishing the year as the ninth-ranked quarterback in overall grade after playing just 128 snaps over the first four years of his career. He earned above-average grades in eight of 14 games, compared to just two below-average games, both of which came against New England.
Taylor makes some great plays with his mobility and can extend plays (he had the second-highest run game among QBs), but that certainly doesn’t mean his arm is limited in any way. In fact, he often made some impressive throws like the one below. On deep passes (20-plus yards downfield), Taylor ranked fifth in yards, second in touchdowns, and tenth in adjusted-completion percentage.
Why is Buffalo so cool on Tyrod? He wasn’t perfect, but pretty damn good for year 1 starting. And throws like this: pic.twitter.com/nri6ShCoV6
— Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) April 25, 2016
Like most quarterbacks, he did have some struggles under pressure. However, his 67.0 adjusted-completion percentage tied for ninth-best in the league, and his passer rating was still nearly 17 points above the league average. He also did well taking care of the ball, as his 14 turnover-worthy plays were tied for 10th-fewest in the league. With just 14 starts under his belt, Taylor still has to prove he can play at this level consistently and for the long-term, but what he has put on tape thus far looks promising that he can be a solid NFL starter.