Christian Miller, edge rusher from Alabama
Last year the Panthers got a steal in the fourth round. The selection of tight end Ian Thomas was one that paid an immediate return and is sure to pay dividends later on. This year the Panthers did it again with Christian Miller, a former edge rusher for the Crimson Tide. Miller made contributions to the revered Alabama front from 2015 to 2018. After spending four years in Alabama’s linebacker rotation, the Alabama product is ready to start his professional career in Panther blue.
Starting off as a Backup
According to rolltide.com, Miller spent his first three seasons rotating in at linebacker and on special teams. He played in a total of twelve games as a redshirt freshman in 2015. As a sophomore he became a big special teams contributor and began to get more reps at linebacker. Miller was sidelined with an injury for ten games during his junior year and only saw action four times. In all three seasons he notched a total of two solo sacks, two half sacks, four quarterback hurries, and one punt deflection.
The Final Season
In 2018 Miller had a breakout year. The South Carolina native recorded eight and a half sacks, twelve quarterback hurries, one pass breakup, and one pass deflection. He earned an SEC Defensive player of the week recognition and was a Tide coaching staff’s Player of the Week after his performance at Ole Miss:
He also earned three more Tide coaching staff’s Player of the Week recognitions after facing Louisiana, Missouri, and LSU. Although he missed the title game against Clemson, Miller performed valiantly every time he was on the field.
Fit with the Panthers
Miller now faces the toughest competition he’s ever had. In a room full of veteran edge rushers he will have to turn heads with every chance he gets. Fortunately, he has just as much potential as his Seminole counterpart, Brian Burns.
According to NFL.com, the Alabama standout measured just two pounds lighter and two inches shorter than Brian Burns. Interestingly, Miller’s arms are one and one quarter inch longer than Burns’s. Realistically Miller might have to prove his worth as a special teams ace before taking any defensive reps. However, if Miller steps up early he could quickly become a key piece of the edge rotation. Check out his last game with the Crimson Tide:
Sack at 0:40
Drops back into coverage at 2:53
Hybrid edge rushers gain value in the defensive scheme as the Panthers hint more and more towards a transition into a hybrid defense. Miller is one of three players listed as a hybrid linebacker and defensive end, the other two being Bruce Irvin and Brian Burns. Miller will get pigeonholed for his weight and lack of starting experience, but his length and explosiveness could still help him earn the third edge rusher job. Unless he bulks up his defensive reps will primarily be opposite from Marquis Haynes on third and fourth down situations. That might prove to be good as Miller could be the ideal edge-setting specialist who can cover or rush with Haynes.