Favorite Prospects Edition Offensive Player: Anthony Miller, Defensive Player: Deshon Elliott


By: Blake Hymel


Anthony Miller

Career Stats at Memphis:

Receptions: 238

Receiving Yards: 3,590

Receiving TDs: 37

Receiving Average: 15.1

Rushing Attempts: 31

Rushing Yards: 148

Rushing TDs: 3


Strengths:


Athletic Ability

Anthony Miller is an impressive athlete. He has great change of direction, and puts it on display with crisp, well run routes. He’s a versatile athlete and is a threat in several positions. At Memphis, he averaged 15 yards per catch, but also averaged 4.8 yards per rush. He was often used on jet sweeps, and scored 3 rushing touchdowns during his career. Miller also showed off his athletic ability on punt returns, averaging 6.8 yards per punt return. He also returned 6 kick offs over his three years, averaging 22.7 yards per return.


At his pro day in Memphis, Miller ran a 4.46 40 and posted a vertical jump of 39 inches.


Playmaker

All Anthony Miller does is produce plays. He topped the NCAA in 2017 with 18 receiving touchdowns. He also broke the American conference record for career receiving touchdowns with 37. He finished 1st in receiving yards in the American conference with 1462 and 2nd in career receptions with 238. In 2016, he put together the best receiving season in Memphis history with 95 receptions, 1434 yards, and 14 receiving touchdowns. Only to break that in 2017 with 96 receptions, 1462 yards, and 18 receiving touchdowns.


In 2017, Anthony scored a receiving touchdown in 10 out of 13 games. In 5 of those games, he scored multiple receiving touchdowns. He’s also had 75+ receiving yard games 8 out of the 13 games. He’s incredibly consistent over his 3 year college career. Averaging 14.8 ypc in 2015, 15.1 in 2016, and 15.2 in 2017.

Miller is as consistent as a playmaker as you can ask for. This may be overlooked because he isn’t as flashy as other receivers, but he’s no less dangerous.


Football IQ

Miller plays with a very high football IQ. He understands the importance of running good routes. His routes are precise and crisp, which allows him to create seperation down the field. This is also highlighted by his play on 50/50 balls. Miller is the best 50/50 ball receiver going into the draft this year. He’s consistently in good positioning and times is jumps very well. In the rare instances where he is out of position, he is able to twist his body to find leverage against the defender.


With his route running and play on 50/50 balls, I expect Miller to be a legitimate red zone threat for whichever team picks him up.


Weaknesses:

Blocking

Miller is not a great blocker. What’s worse is that it doesn’t seem like this is a weakness due to an physical inability to do it, but a lack of interest. As soon as Miller makes contact with a defender, he stops his feet, turns his head back to the ball carrier and sits. He doesn’t focus on the defender’s strength or leverage or footwork at all, rather he just sits there and hopes the defender is as lazy as he is.


This is an issue he needs to fix shortly after joining the NFL. Professional level defensive backs will not sit on a block. Anthony needs to get more aggressive in this aspect of the game, and drive defenders away from the ball carrier.


Injuries

Miller started his Memphis career with a shoulder injury in 2014 that sidelined him for the entire season. He also missed a game against Houston in 2015 with an injury. After that, he wasn’t injured again until just before the season in 2017, where he missed fall camp with an undisclosed injury. The injury did clear up before the season began and he didn’t miss any game time. At the end of the same season, Miller was injured during his bowl game, and it was later discovered to be a fractured foot. Due to his foot injury, Miller missed the Senior Bowl and didn’t run at the NFL combine. He felt comfortable enough to run at his pro day and doesn’t seem limited going into the draft.


Miller’s history of nagging injuries may be a concern for some NFL teams. It’s often said that after Week 1, every player is injured. With an injury history like Miller’s, spanning over 3 years, he could miss some time in the NFL and lower his value to teams.


NFL Team Fits: There are a few different teams that Miller would fit well with. He’s likely a slot receiver but brings a lot of value to the red zone, similar to a larger, outside receiver. The Denver Broncos would be a good landing spot. Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders own 2 of the 3 richest contracts with the Broncos, amassing an almost 23 millions dollar hit against the cap space. They both have a potential out at the end of the 2018 season and the Broncos could be looking for a young receiver to bring in to soften the blow of losing one or maybe both receivers in 2019. There are two teams with young quarterbacks that could be looking to find a franchise receiver to gel and grow with. The San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles would be good landing spots. Pierre Garcon is 31 years old with a potential out after the 2018 season and Marquise Goodwin doesn’t have what it takes to be a number 1 receiver, never catching more than 3 touchdowns in any season since he was drafted in 2013. For the Eagles, Mike Wallace is 31 and in the only year of his contract, and Nelson Agholor is going into his last season (with a 5th year option available for 2019). They may be looking to bring a young receiver to grow with Carson Wentz and to soften the blow of losing Agholor and Wallace after this season. My favorite possible landing spot for Miller would be the New Orleans Saints. There’s no doubt that most of the defense’s attention will go to trying to stop Michael Thomas. Miller could slide in and do some real damage in a #2 receiver spot. Drew Brees loves to spread the ball around, and having a receiver that would take some pressure off of Thomas would help greatly. Also, with such a great need at the tight end position, Miller could fill in as a red zone threat. Bringing in Miller could help Brees lead the offense back to the Superbowl before his career is over in the next few years.


DeShon Elliott

Career Stats at Texas:

Total Tackles:105

Tackles for Loss: 11.5 Sacks: 2.5

Interceptions: 9 Passes Defended: 13

Touchdowns: 2


Strengths:

Tackling

Deshon Elliott is an elite tackler. He uses impeccable form. He keeps his head up, wraps his arms up the defender, and drives the ball carrier back. He times his hits incredibly well. He’s an impact hitter, setting the tone early in games. Sometimes his big hits dislodges the ball, and he has 3 forced fumbles in 2017.

84 of his 105 total tackles are solo tackles. He also has 11.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks in his two year career at Texas.


Intensity

Deshon’s best abilities are his intangibles. He’s a competitor that shows up on every play. He’s always running top speed, even if the play is away from him. Deshon’s aggressiveness gives him an advantage in both press coverage and run-stopping. He’s best when he’s playing close to the line of scrimmage, or spying underneath routes where he can come up and lay a huge hit on the ball carrier. He’s a player that can change the momentum of a game. He’s a leader in the locker room, and really loves playing football.


Weaknesses:

Speed

Deshon’s speed is a concern that may prevent him from reaching his full potential. He ran his 40 in 4.58 seconds. Finishing 43 out of 57 safeties that ran at the combine. His lack of straight-line speed is evident when chasing ball carriers from behind. He does find ways to make up for this, with quick reaction speed and play recognition, but this could potentially prevent him from covering many NFL receivers man-to-man. Due to this, if a receiver gets by his initial punch, Deshon is in trouble. He was able to hide this deficiency well enough in college, but I don’t think he’ll be able to at the next level. This also eliminates his versatility and regulates him to mostly a strong safety role at the next level.


Discipline

Earlier i mention Deshon’s ability to read plays quickly, and that’s allowed him to make some big plays. But that coupled with his aggressiveness, has gotten him into trouble. Often, a smart quarterback can look Deshon off with his eyes, and attack the zone that he just vacated. Deshon’s lack of speed makes it harder for him to re-adjust to the play and prevent a big play. Deshon needs to be more discipline with his eyes when sitting in zones. The quarterbacks in the NFL are smart, and will take advantage of his aggressiveness.


Deshon has trouble in a similar vein when working his way through traffic. During run plays, Deshon sometimes gets caught between blockers and is washed out of the play. He fails to keep his head on a swivel and this prevents him from cutting through traffic effectively. He needs to develop a better feel for movement when things get messy up the middle. This can also be traced back to his aggressiveness. He does the offensive lineman’s job for them by getting sucked into the block. Deshon is constantly looking for big hits, tackles for loss or tackles for no gain, and he allows his opponent to take advantage of his intense nature.


Lack of Starts

This weakness is pretty straightforward. Deshon has only started 13 games at Texas, and while he played in 5 games in 2015 and 9 in 2016, he was only a full time starter in 2017. His stats over the 2017 season are good with 63 tackles, 9 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles, and 2 pick-six touchdowns. Through purely a lack of time, he hasn’t been able to prove that he’s a consistent, long-term starter. I don’t think that anyone that watches his tape is concerned about this weakness, but it’s something that could manifest itself in the NFL.


Team Fits: There are a couple teams that need a player that can set the tone and come down with turnovers on defense. To start, the Oakland Raiders desperately need a secondary player with the ability to take the ball away. In 2017, they only had 5 interceptions. Marcus Gilchrist is on a one year contract this year, but he hasn’t gotten more than a few interceptions a year. Karl Joseph has 2 more years on his contract but he’s not a turnover machine either. With the Arizona Cardinals releasing Tyrann Mathieu, they could use a playmaker at the safety position. They picked up Antoine Bethea, whos contract goes through the 2019 season, but he’s 33 years old, and the Cardinals need a safety for the future. It’s possible they would want to draft a playmaking safety that could turn into a locker room leader under the mentorship of a veteran. chiefs

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