The Chicago Bears made an aggressive move that caught many off guard when they traded back into the second round to select Anthony Miller with the 51st overall pick.
Miller, a wide receiver out of the University of Memphis, flew under the radar on draft day for some …
But really he shouldn’t have
The former three-year starter at Memphis found tremendous success over the past two seasons, as he caught 95 passes for 1,434 yards and 12 touchdowns as a junior and followed that with 96 receptions, 1,462 yards and an NCAA-leading 18 touchdowns his senior season.
He also earned All-AAC Second Team honors in 2016 and was an NCAA Consensus All-American as a senior.
While he posted phenomenal numbers that few in college football could match, there were five wide receivers selected in front of him in the draft. Miller was unable to perform on-field drills at the NFL Combine due to a fractured foot, and this is one of the biggest reasons why he slid into the middle of the second round.
At the skill positions, the combine presents an opportunity to show teams how a particular prospect compares to others doing the exact same drills. While not participating in the combine didn’t necessarily hurt Miller, it could’ve helped other receivers more that performed well.
Miller has the talent to be considered the best receiver in the draft and easily could have been drafted earlier if he had a great combine.
At 5-foot-11 and weighing 200 pounds, Miller has been drawing comparisons to Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown by extreme optimists. Did the Bears find the steal of the draft in the second round and land a perennial All-Pro wide receiver?
When you look at the tape, however, Miller and Brown do have undeniable similarities.
Miller is phenomenal in open field and can create yards after the catch with the ball in his hands. He accelerates out of cuts during his routes at an exceptional rate with his blistering fast stutter steps.
Oh, it should be noted he’s the type of receiver who can take a screen-pass 91 yards to the house …
He isn’t just a slot receiver or a deep threat, he can excel on all levels of the field. Here’s Miller creating separation in the red zone off an RPO and hauling it in for the score.
Can’t you just imagine that play working to perfection on Sundays with all the attention on the bigger-bodied guys like Trey Burton and Allen Robinson?
Lastly, he has made great highlight catches on the sidelines, similar to Brown.
Miller isn’t a perfect prospect of course, as ball security is an issue moving forward as he has five career fumbles at Memphis. He also has a tendency of dropping simple throws while being able to make the difficult catches, so his inconsistency can be a problem.
Another concern that I’ve noticed is that he may be quicker than he is fast, which will be a problem at the next level. If Miller doesn’t have the top-end speed needed at the receiver position, he will struggle at getting open downfield and will be a one-dimensional receiver used in short-yardage situations.
His exact role with the Bears should be interesting given the company of Robinson and Taylor Gabriel, and Tarik Cohen’s development as a receiver would have an impact on his productivity, but Miller is put in a much better spot to succeed than he would have been with the Bears last season.
He doesn’t need to be “the guy” at receiver, at least not right away.
Miller has some of the best focus you’ll see on deep throws down the sideline and he can be used in whatever role head coach Matt Nagy needs him to be to compliment this receiving core.
Bears fans should be pleased with this pick moving forward as Mitch Trubisky’s arsenal has been set. The pieces are in place and it’s time to see what the results will be.