The Early Read: Lamar Miller


A lot has been made of the Bucs’ potential need for a tailback. After a debacle last season in which the Bucs ran out of able-bodied backs and ended the game handing off to a converted defensive end, it became more than apparent that at the very least they needed to acquire some depth.

Right now the Bucs have two capable backs on the roster, Earnest Graham and LeGarrette Blount, I think the writing is pretty much on the wall with the rest of them. That beckons the question, how do you address the position? Are you looking for a talented back-up? Are you looking for a starter? Is Greg Schiano of the mindset that this is a two-back league or does he just want a feature guy?

As I said over the weekend, one of the questions Schiano faces on offense is what to do with LeGarrette Blount. The Bucs’ monster back is certainly capable of being a 25 carry back, but if Schiano doesn’t want to go that route, one guy who may be available at the top of the second round is Miami RB Lamar Miller.

Miller is one of my favorite runners in the draft, and could be the next great back in the Hurricane line.

Despite a tumultuous year at the University of Miami last season, Miller had a sensational season rushing for 1,272 yards and nine touchdowns with a 5.6 yard average. He frankly reminded me a little of how Clinton Portis used to run in college because he was very smart, and read his blocks extremely well despite running a little bit upright at times.

That’s the one knock you’ll hear about Miller, he runs a little too upright, that’s a bit misleading because despite that, his style of running and his cutback vision and intelligence don’t make that as much of an issue as it is for other backs. He’ll get some coaching in the NFL, but I think that’s a bit of an overplayed argument.

Beyond that there is very little to criticize about Miller. As I alluded to, he is a very smart runner and despite having not having exceptional burst, has a knack for finding daylight. What he lacks in burst though he makes up for with top-speed. He has an exceptional second gear once he gets into the open and is extremely hard to bring down from behind.

He also has deceptive power. He doesn’t have power in the sense Blount does, where he can pinball through a line and drag a defender five yards. But Miller has a very healthy aggression in him and it’s not uncommon to see him terminating a run by challenging a safety or a corner. He’s somewhat a finesse runner but he doesn’t shy from contact.

Miller’s best trait may be his versatility though. He’s a a competent receiver and an extremely gifted return man. That’s one of the reasons I’m so high on him. He can contribute as a runner as well as in other areas. If a team wanted to develop him a little and use him as a second back he can still contribute on special teams and third downs, but he’s also ready to play now and carry the load in an offense if he needs to.

At 5’11, 212 he’s a got the size it takes and he’s a redshirt sophomore so he doesn’t have a lot of mileage. Lamar Miller would make an excellent compliment to LeGarrette Blount. He’s a home-run threat who can come on the field in passing situations while Blount handles the brunt of the carries down the stretch.

Or if Schiano’s not high on Blount he could start.

Either way he’d be great value if he’s still on the board at 37.

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