NAME: Christian Miller
POSITION: Edge Defender
CLASS: RS Senior
JERSEY: No. 47
RECRUITMENT RATING: 4-star
WT: 240 lbs
Burst – Average at best burst off the ball, especially from 2-point stance. Wouldn’t be described as explosive, and consistently false steps with his back foot from a standup edge position. Long strides do eat up the arc once he gets going. Has a little more juice and no false step from a 3-point stance.
Bend – Adequate bend to challenge the edge, but needs a wider arc than most top pass rushers to corner. Not going to turn tight corners to the pocket through contact. More flexibility in his ankles than hips, has some edge-tilting ability but needs to improve at dropping his inside shoulder, especially off his go-to move the cross-chop. Gets hung up on contact at the top of the arc because of the inability to dip and finish clean off the edge.
Rush Moves – Pretty strong array of pass rush moves. Loves the cross-chop and will even incorporated a leaping cross-chop into his repertoire. Slows a pass rusher down some, but makes it harder for a tackle to land his punch and adds some force to the cross chop. Long arm/stab move is consistently well-placed and has some punch behind it for a slow-burn wins. Have seen him utilize push-pulls on smaller blockers with good success. Good job varying speeds up the arc with stutter steps to get a step on his opponent to corner.
Counters – Still a work in progress. Constant bundle of energy fighting to get to the quarterback, but counters are always readily deployed and are sometimes just energy without a purpose. May never have great speed to open up inside counters, but works his hands relentlessly enough to trim down some tough angles.
Run Defense – Stout edge setter with a ferocious punch and well-placed hands. Tight ends get eaten alive. Doesn’t have the anchor to ward off power players at tackle, can be displaced as a result if he doesn’t land his hands. Pad level could be more consistent. Steps down well in unblocked situations, but box technique needs a lot of work to take on pullers better. Played more passing downs than early downs this season, so playing time against the run is a little bit limited.
Lateral Mobility – Good range and overall mobility in space. Made a couple impressive plays in space against athletic Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond. Not explosive laterally, but fluid enough that it isn’t out of the question to have him drop into shallow zone coverages in the NFL.
Mental Processing/Vision – Smart player who processes information well for someone with very little playing time under his belt. Reads pass sets well and attacks opponents’ hands. Always working a plan of attack. Good gap discipline in the run game and finds the football quickly to get in pursuit.
Tackling/Finishing – Long arms to make stops outside his frame. Only issue he has with finishing is being more of a wrestle-down tackler, sometimes giving quarterbacks the opportunity to get the ball away. In general does very well to wrap up and get opponents on the ground.
Competitive Toughness – Physical and aggressive with a non-stop motor. Have seen him chase guys down from halfway across the field, just on sheer effort. Never takes a play off. Has worked back through injuries and waited his turn to finally breakout as a redshirt senior.
Athleticism/Size – Exceptionally long-legged with arms that should be amongst the longest in his position group for the 2019 class. May need to bulk up his lower half some. More generally athletic (fluid, good long speed) than pass rush athletic (bend, flexibility, burst).
BEST TRAIT – Hand Usage
WORST TRAIT – Burst
RED FLAGS – Suffered a torn biceps in the season opener against Florida State his redshirt junior season, missed ten games as a result.
After three years of sitting on the bench, playing sparingly in blowouts and balling on special teams, Christian Miller thought his time had come as a redshirt junior. Unfortunately, a torn biceps knocked him out of the lineup for the next ten games, meaning the wait for a big-time impact was delayed until his fifth season with the Crimson Tide.
Still playing only about half of Alabama’s defensive snaps (I’m guessing based on tape), Miller was excellent in 2018, showing off a diverse pass rush plan, terrific hand usage and the physicality needed to help offset his lack of elite athleticism. Miller may not be the most high ceiling edge defender in the class, but he looks like a solid rotational player in the NFL who can play in a variety of fronts and stances while providing some versatility in coverage or as a rusher. A strong Senior Bowl can really help his stock.