In the early years of Aaron Rodgers‘ career, the star quarterback was surrounded by a plethora of athletic pass-catchers capable of lining up all over the field. The decision to extend fifth-year player Davante Adams and release longtime stalwart Jordy Nelson indicates that the Green Bay Packers are turning the page at wide receiver once again. None of the pass-catchers from the Packers Super Bowl victory in 2010 remain with the team. There is a hole on the boundary across from Adams, one that will almost certainly be filled through the 2018 NFL Draft. One player that should be getting more attention in the lead-up to the draft is wide receiver Anthony Miller from the University of Memphis.
Anthony Miller Is a Good Fit for the Green Bay Packers Receiving Corps
After starting his career as a walk-on, Miller redshirted his freshman year and lost his first season to injury. He posted modest numbers in his healthy sophomore campaign with just under 700 receiving yards and five scores. He really took his game to another level when stepping into the starting lineup in 2016. Miller was one of the most productive players in the country over his junior and senior seasons. He averaged 95 catches for over 1,400 yards and 16 touchdowns in two years yet has been widely viewed as a mid-round prospect in this year’s draft. The Packers need depth at receiver and would be wise to take a long look at Miller in the second or third round if he’s available.
Miller fits the mold in Green Bay because he can do a bit of everything and line up across the formation. He isn’t the largest receiver at 5’11”, 201 pounds, but plays with an aggressiveness when attacking jump balls on the outside. Miller also played in the slot at Memphis which is where many analysts project he will line up in the NFL. His quickness on stutter-steps and double moves allows him to get open from a variety of alignments. Miller also has great body control and a quick twitch ability with the ball. He’s a four-year player with an incredible motor and toughness that should help him succeed in any NFL locker room. Miller could find instant opportunity and success in Green Bay with a quarterback like Rodgers that is adept at throwing his receivers open.
Miller’s Role With Packers
There are two aspects to Miller’s game that make him an ideal fit with the Packers. First is his ability make plays after the catch. The Packers offense is at its best when receivers are able to create chunk plays on their own, an asset that has been missing lately. Miller is electric with the ball in his hands. He frequently makes the first man miss on crossing or hook routes. He averaged right at 15 yards per reception for his college career. Much of that work was taking shallow routes from the slot and turning them into big gains. At times he even lined up at running back and scored three touchdowns on the ground. Randall Cobb only has one year remaining on his current deal. It’s possible the team could use a combination of the two on the outside this year before transitioning Miller primarily to the slot in 2019.
Miller’s second major attribute is his ability to make catches in traffic and on back shoulder throws. One of the major knocks on Miller is that he doesn’t have exceptional or consistent hands. On deep routes, he doesn’t need them. Miller has taken a page out of the great Antonio Brown‘s book and has learned how to wall off defenders and make contested catches with his body. Miller isn’t a big receiver but somehow always seems to come down with 50/50 balls. Just turn on the game footage of the AAC conference championship game where Miller was unstoppable with three touchdowns while lined up on the outside. There was triple coverage on Miller by the end of the game and the man just continued to get open and make the catch. Rodgers throws the best back shoulder fade in the NFL. He could use a guy like Miller who he can trust to make tough catches in the biggest moments.