The 2018 Draft Class is competitive for top dog at several positions, with wide receiver arguably being the most rugged. While Alabama’s Calvin Ridley looks to be the first off the board early, there are certainly several players that you can make a case for being the most NFL-Ready. Memphis wideout Anthony Miller is a first-round talent who sees his draft stock contingent on whether or not teams deem his injury history too risky. Nevertheless, he is a high-risk high-reward steal for any franchise. The Raiders will benefit from this class.
A pestering foot injury inflicted in the Liberty Bowl caused Miller to miss the Senior Bowl in January. Also, Miller elected not to perform on-field drills during the March NFL Combine. His absence from these two key events have caused him to slip on some draft boards. However, to write off one of the most electrifying players in this draft is a grave mistake, and with Miller’s motor, it will not take long to make any team that passes on him to regret it.
The Tigers walk-on became a household name in 2016, catching for over 1400 yards and 14 touchdowns on 15.1 yards per catch. In 2017, he proved the prior season was not a fluke, with another 1400-yard season and 18 touchdowns. The two-sport track star out of Christian Brothers High in Memphis has used his lack of interest from major programs to orchestrate the greatest career for a Tiger in program history. Miller’s 3,590 career yards and 37 career touchdowns both sit atop Memphis’ record books.
The best example of what you will get out of Miller is Memphis’ 48-45 defeat of then-ranked #25 UCLA Bruins. Miller was a consistent threat, stepping up big-time against top talent, reliable in third-down and late-game situations. Miller possesses all the traits to make a splash on an NFL-Franchise, the superstar potential that so few receivers in this draft class exhibit.
Over his last two seasons at Memphis, Miller snagged over 90 receptions in both. Possessing 10” hands, Miller has no problem coming down with the ball, albeit one hand or two. He makes the difficult catches, and despite being 5’10, he plays the 50/50 balls well at its highest point.
While he has yet to run a 40-yard-dash, the tape on Miller tells more than enough about his speed. He possesses a great burst and straight-line speed that will make him a viable weapon at the next level in the slot. He possesses a vicious first-step and the ability to make one cut and go.
Watching Miller run routes is a treat. With his solid footwork and attention-to-detail, Miller is hard to defend on any route. At the combine, Miller put up an impressive 22 reps on the bench press, and it shows on tape, using his physicality to get off a jam or drive defenders when blocking. Miller is great at shaking would-be defenders on the intermediate routes and flat-out burns most defenders on go routes.
When it comes to agility, Miller is beyond most in this draft class. His ability to change direction on a dime and be so shifty is why he averaged 15.1 yards per catch for his career as a Tiger. Miller is a penchant for making defenders miss, especially on downs when Memphis needed him most. Miller brings quickness that the Raiders lack.
There are few knocks on Miller, with the only possible downfall of his game being his motor. He is a high-energy guy that plays with plenty of passion, talking trash on the field and backing it up. The issue with that is, much like Odell Beckham, Miller does not do well with absorbing trash talk. Facing veteran corners, the last thing teams want to deal with is a hothead.
Sure, the Raiders paid a guy named Seth Roberts. However, they do not have a slot receiver on their roster that teams should fear. With Amari Cooper and Jordy Nelson on the outside, having an all-around threat with reliable hands would do wonders for quarterback Derek Carr. Miller fights for every yard. Furthermore, he has the winner’s mentality you want in a locker room of a team looking to return to the playoffs.