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.
First Step Quickness –Good but not great burst and release off the snap to challenge the edge. Likable second gear and brings enough pacing from tilted angles to really pressure opposing OTs. Similar results from both two and three pt. stances.
Hand Technique/Length – Placement to stack blocks is really nice. Does a good job of locking horns and keeping his leverage on the block to hold his gap. Will win at first contact with length and shows awareness of using hands to sweep himself clear of debris when it’s time to pursue.
Pass Rush Counters – Awareness of flashing hands and opportunities to cut them down are strong. Flashed shallow swim, arm over, sweep, long arm, etc. Still has some reps that get off the rails on him, tried a sloppy inside spin and doesn’t always cut man in half as needed.
Flexibility –Better bend than originally anticipated. Like his ankle mobility to flatten, most specifically when he’s detached from blockers and cornering with speed in space. His lateral tilt is above average as well, he just gets bubbled when he’s riding off of a set of hands.
Run Defending –He doesn’t have the anchor or the raw power to roll back offensive tackles but he does have enough pop in his hands to negate forward push and shows good lateral disengagement skills to drop into a gap and stuff up a play.
Competitive Toughness –Can get bodies stuck on his chest if he’s caught without pressing to disengage himself. Anchor is really strong when he’s popped his hands into extension to lock out. Motor runs hot, shows great effort off the back side.
Tackling –Long arms flash an impressive catch radius, like how well he plays away from his center to wrap up. Short area mobility is present to flash and mirror his opponent and slide down to pin the ball carrier into traffic. Brings plenty of power on crash down attempts.
Lateral Mobility – Really smooth, don’t see any issues with him unlocking his hips and flowing up and down the LOS to play in run support. Like his efforts as a contain player to stay outside the stretch. Can transition and get outside of rolling quarterbacks.
Stand Up Ability –Releases are just as effective from two and three pt. stances. His lack of pure power will aid him from a 2 pt. stance as he’s allowed to work from wider natural angles and afford him a little extra wiggle room. Shouldn’t be implemented too frequently going backwards.
Football IQ –Non-experienced as a starter but a featured role player for several seasons, he’s further along than low start numbers would anticipate. Still needs to more fully flesh out his rush plans to ensure he’s not putting sloppy, mistimed reps on the field.
BEST TRAIT – Hand Technique
WORST TRAIT – Separation Consistency
BEST FILM – Missouri (2018)
WORST FILM – LSU (2018)
RED FLAGS –2018 hamstring
Christian Miller projects as a starting OLB in an odd front. Miller has good release off the edge and shows really effective work to stack up blockers from outside-in. Miller brings athleticism to play up in a 2-pt stance and effectively set the edge, but his best qualities shine as a pass rusher. Miller shows length, mobility and enough cornering skill to develop into an effective threat off the edge. Will need time to further develop his rush consistency.