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Mile High Morning: Looking back on the reaction to the Broncos' selection of Von Miller in 2011


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In honor of our weekly national holiday known as Throwback Thursday, a nostalgic Von Miller shared a photo from his rookie experience at the 2011 NFL Rookie Premiere.

As we continue to think about draft grades and all that stuff less than a week after the 2020 NFL Draft, it got me thinking: I wonder what the reaction was like after Miller was drafted by the Broncos in 2011.

I found this article from the day Miller was drafted, "Von Miller: Shades of Derrick Thomas?" from Bill Williamson at ESPN to be particularly interesting in hindsight.

"[John] Elway told ESPN's Ed Werder Wednesday that Miller was the most dynamic pass-rusher in a class full of outstanding pass-rushers," Williamson wrote. "Denver was also mesmerized by Miller's athleticism. Denver general manager Brian Xanders told Werder that the team did a computer analysis of Miller's athletic measurables compared to the 64 current starting wide receivers and cornerbacks, and Miller rated out above average athletically."

That comparison became even easier to make when Miller selected 58 as his number, as Williamson reported two days after Miller was drafted. Elway — the former Derrick Thomas adversary — said, "I told him not to walk behind me."

Sports Illustrated's Kerry J. Byrne wrote, "The Broncos gave up more points than any team in the NFL last year and capitalized on that in way the Cowboys should have: Aggressively grabbing defenders. It started with No. 2 pick, Von Miller, a pass-rush specialist OLB. It was a perfect needs-based selection[.]"

There were, of course, some that disagreed with that assessment, particularly because they were skeptical of Miller's fit in a 4-3 defense. But the draft makes fools of us all at some point, so I won't put a spotlight on them here.

Instead, we'll focus on the positives. After all, they were right.

Below the Fold

I hope this draft grade from CBS Sports' Ryan Wilson proves to be just as prescient. He ranked the Broncos' 2020 draft class as the league's third best and gave it an A rating, writing that Elway is "setting up Denver's offense to go toe-to-toe with all that Chiefs firepower."

ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. picked Broncos fifth-round pick Justin Strnad as a candidate to contribute immediately as a rookie. "He is very instinctive, always around the ball, and he has some coverage skills, even if he isn't an elite athlete," he wrote.

My favorite anecdote that might have flown under the radar a little during the draft was one from sixth-round pick Netane Muti. "During his high school days at Leilehua, Netane Muti was always active under the bright Friday night lights. It just wasn't as a football player at first," Christian Shimabuku of KHON2 wrote.

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