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Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Big 12 at the NFL combine: Linebackers

By David Ubben

The NFL scouting combine concludes today, but the defensive line and linebackers took their turns under the microscope on Monday. Here's a look at how the linebackers did. We looked at the defensive linemen this morning.

Position ranking in parentheses when available.

Von Miller
Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller had a superb showing at the NFL scouting combine.
Von Miller, Texas A&M
Orie Lemon, Oklahoma State

Wondering why you saw Miller's face on about every football website you could find yesterday?

Well, here you go. News of Miller's freakish athletic ability isn't news to any fans of Texas A&M or fans of teams who faced the Aggies, but when you see it all etched in concrete like this? Well, it's a little jarring.

"Watching more tape on him, he’s going to be a fun guy to coach," Aggies defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter told me last spring.

He'd had the job less then two months back then, and he knew what he had. The point is, it doesn't take long to figure it out.

"Through the first few mornings of our workouts, he’s a guy that can really stand out in a crowd," DeRuyter said. "He’s a 6-4, 240-pound man that moves around like he’s 5-10 and 180. And having that explosion and burst really gives you a chance to say, ‘How can we get this guy isolated?’ Just seeing that athleticism just whets your appetite for that, thinking about the possibility."

Considering Miller's numbers on Monday, that sounds about accurate, no? He clocked a 4.46 40-time in his first run. That's defensive back speed. Miller, however, is going to be hunting down quarterbacks on the edge in the NFL.

Best yet, Miller showed this year that he can be a complete player, often dropping into coverage, perhaps at the peril of his sack total (still the Big 12's best) but at the benefit of his NFL stock. With his performance on Monday, Miller might have moved into the top 5.

There's no doubts about his athleticism. That's clear. He did his best to answer those questions about his ability to be more than just a pass rusher with the last year in DeRuyter's 3-4 scheme. Miller's ability to drop his shoulder and gain leverage on most tackles with a low center of gravity will pay off, but it's obvious with his shuttle times and 40-time that he's not going to have problems accounting for quite a bit of square footage in coverage.

His stock is skyrocketing, and it's not difficult to see why.