Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Steelers TE Heath Miller remains underrated
By James Walker
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger often calls teammate Heath Miller the best tight end in football. But according to ESPN.com's positional Power Rankings, Miller is not even in the top 12 at his position.
Miller came in at No. 13 in this week's ranking of the NFL's best tight ends. ESPN.com senior writer John Clayton and I were the only two voters who had Miller on their ballots. Clayton voted Miller ninth and I ranked Miller seventh.
This confirms what most of us in the AFC North blog already suspected: Miller remains one of the league's most underrated players. Injuries hurt his numbers in 2010 (42 receptions for 512 yards). But Miller was recently an AFC representative in the Pro Bowl two seasons ago with 76 receptions for 789 yards and six touchdowns.
Miller is not flashy and will never catch 100 passes per season playing in Pittsburgh's offense. But in my opinion, Miller is one of the NFL's most complete tight ends and worthy of being on this list.
Miller makes the most of his limited opportunities. He's sure-handed and great at running downhill after the catch. He's also a phenomenal run- and pass-blocker, and essentially serves as Pittsburgh's third offensive tackle.
The Steelers know how important Miller is to their offense. His contributions cannot be measured strictly by numbers because Miller adds much more with his toughness, blocking ability and being a safety valve over the middle for Roethlisberger.
Miller may not be tops at his position. But I would not select 12 tight ends for my team before taking Miller.
ESPN.com's Tight End Power Rankings
1. Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
2. Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers
3. Dallas Clark, Indianapolis Colts
4. Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers
5. Chris Cooley, Washington Redskins
6. Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons
7. Kellen Winslow Jr., Tampa Bay Buccaneers
8. Marcedes Lewis, Jacksonville Jaguars
9. Brandon Pettigrew, Detroit Lions
10. Jermichael Finley, Green Bay Packers
Walker's Tight End Power Rankings
1. Jason Witten, Dallas
2. Antonio Gates, San Diego
3. Dallas Clark, Indianapolis
4. Kellen Winslow Jr., Tampa Bay
5. Vernon Davis, San Francisco
6. Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta
7. Heath Miller, Pittsburgh
8. Chris Cooley, Washington
9. Zach Miller, Oakland Raiders
10. Dustin Keller, New York Jets