During Ohio State's championship run in 2014, Joey Bosa rightfully attracted press and praise for his monstrous skills at defensive end. Less heralded was his counterpart at the other DE spot, senior Steve Miller.
Miller platooned at DE with Rashad Frazier, meaning that he didn't quite stuff the stat sheet in his final year as a Buckeye, but he proved to be a solid contributor to a championship defense. In 15 games last season, Miller recorded 34 total tackles, including 6.5 for loss and one sack. Those numbers probably don't come close to what we might have seen from Noah Spence in the same spot, but Miller was never really expected to be Spence, who was dismissed from the team without taking a snap in 2014.
But his biggest moment as a Buckeye came, of course, on what was at that point the biggest stage he had ever played on: in the Allstate Sugar Bowl, against Alabama. In the third quarter, he picked off a Blake Sims pass. Steve Miller then flew like an eagle, or perhaps a big old jet airliner. He went 41 yards with the ball in his hands for a score -- something he had actually predicted in the week leading up to the game, proving that he wasn't a...joker.
Miller has decent size, at 6'5 and about 255 pounds. Let's take a look at how he might contribute to his team in the NFL:
- Big game experience. As mentioned before, Miller has appeared in and performed in the biggest games that the college level has to offer. Prior to last season, he had only appeared situationally for the Buckeyes, recording just 16 tackles in his first three years with the program. But he has a reputation as a smart defender, which should give him some leverage at the next level.
- Discipline. Playing alongside the likes of Joey Bosa, Michael Bennett, and Adolphus Washington, Miller didn't have to be the best on Ohio State's defensive front. He just had to be good enough. He was, too -- despite a disappointing start to the season, the Buckeyes figured things out against the run just in time to stifle Melvin Gordon and limit Derrick Henry and T.J. Yeldon in back-to-back games. Miller did what was asked of him and propped up his side of the line, which was perhaps made easier by having several early-round NFL prospects next to him.
- Overall experience. There's just not a lot of tape on Miller from before 2014, as he was used sparingly on a deep defensive line. There's no telling whether he'll grow into a more productive player as he gains NFL experience, or if he'll continue to show up in fits and starts but not become the steady contributor he's hoping to become.
- Speed. Miller's 40 time is listed as a 5.01, which is not great for a defensive end. His time is on par with guys like Stanford's Henry Anderson, who is three inches taller and 40 pounds heavier than Miller. The 40 time isn't a be-all, end-all measure of player performance, obviously, but it's harder to contribute as an edge rusher without that extra zip. Two of the top DE prospects in this year's class, by comparison, ran a 4.53 (Vic Beasley) and a 4.60 (Dante Fowler).