ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – As expected, Denver went defense. But the Broncos went in a different direction than many pundits expected for months leading up to the draft.
The Broncos selected Texas A&M Von Miller with their highest-ever draft pick, adding a player who could be the best pass rusher in this year’s draft.
Miller was No. 1 on the Broncos’ draft board, head coach John Fox said, leaving no doubt about their direction once the Carolina Panthers led off the draft with Auburn quarterback Cam Newton
“Once (the Panthers) turned their pick in, he was pretty much our guy,” Fox said.
There were no opportunities for the Broncos to trade down and out of the pick, Fox added.
For months leading up to the draft, many outsiders thought Miller would end up with a 3-4 team at outside linebacker.
The 6-foot-3, 246-pounder could find himself seeing some defensive-line work in the Broncos’ 4-3 alignment. Miller didn’t play up front often at A&M, but did take some snaps as a pass-rushing defensive end during Senior Bowl week.
“It’s crucial in this league to be able to rush the passer, and Von adds that dimension to our defense. He’s also able to drop back in pass coverage,” Broncos head coach John Fox said. “There’s no doubt that his versatility is going to make us a better football team.”
When Miller was asked at the Combine what he would bring to his NFL team, his answer was clear, forthright and everything a team would want to hear.
“First and foremost, I’m going to be a great teammate. I’m a team guy. That’s how I play football,” Miller said. “That’s how we were able to win the games that we won at Texas A&M. We didn’t have all the talent in the world, but we had a great team. We had great chemistry in the locker room.
“I’ll be a rookie, whatever those guys want me to do, I’ll be happy to do it. Just find me way, find my role. Whatever it takes to get on the field, that’s what I’ll do.”
Said Fox in a statement: “(Miller) is great on and off the field, and I couldn’t be happier with our first pick in the draft.”
Miller added nine pounds between the end of A&M’s season and the Combine.
“I’ve been eating like crazy,” he said in February. “It’s all good weight, though.”
Broncos executive vice president John Elway spoke at length about Miller eight days earlier during the team’s pre-draft press conference:
“Von, he’s a guy that when you turn on the film, you don’t even have to know what number he is. That’s how dynamic he is and he’s a guy that’s all over the field.,” Elway said.
“Obviously, he’s a guy that’s 250 pounds, runs under 4.5 and his production’s been unbelievable, he had 17 sacks his junior year, 10 sacks last year even though he was banged up a little bit last year.
“(Miller) is a guy that was really a pass-rusher, so you’ve got to do some projection there. We know he can rush the passer, but can he help us on first and second down and learn first and second down where he’s going to have to drop in coverage and cover some running backs and some tight ends? And so those are the types of things, again, each guy has a different equation and it’s just a matter of once we get through that equation what comes out the other end that’s best for the Denver Broncos.”
That added up to Miller being the No. 2 pick.