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Saturday, February 4, 2012
Von Miller's impact makes him DROY

By Bill Williamson

In the end, Von Miller's status as a complete player won him the NFL Defensive of Rookie of the Year award.

The Associated Press announced the Denver Broncos rookie linebacker had been chosen. He and San Francisco linebacker Aldon Smith were considered close competitors for the award. Miller was the No. 2 overall pick in the April draft, while Smith was the No. 7 pick.

Miller had 11.5 sacks and Smith had 14, which was a half sack shy of the NFL rookie sack record.

Miller broke his thumb in late November and played the rest of the season and in Denver’s two playoff games with a cast on his right hand. The injury greatly affected his game as he was essentially playing with one hand. Miller’s play did improve in the playoffs.

Voters probably went with Miller because he was considered a much more complete player than Smith, who just played in pass-rushing situations. Miller was on the field for 79 percent of Denver’s defensive snaps and Smith played on 48 percent of the 49ers’ snaps.

Miller was the centerpiece of an improved Denver defense that helped spur an unlikely playoff run. The Broncos believe Miller will be a star for years to come. He does need to become a better run stopper and that should come with time. He was replaced on running downs at different parts of the season.

But Miller showed the work ethic and desire to improve that area of his game. Coaches and teammates lauded Miller for his approach and he is likely becoming a leader on the team.

Denver selected Miller in last April's draft after considering several other prospects, including Marcell Dareus, Patrick Peterson and Nick Fairley. The Broncos took Miller because they thought he had the most explosion and he had the highest ceiling. So far, it looks like the right call.