ENGLEWOOD, Colo. –When the Broncos selected linebacker Von Miller with the second overall pick of the 2011 NFL Draft, Texas A&M needed somebody to fill that pass-rushing "Joker" role.
That somebody turned out to be linebacker Sean Porter.
The first season after Miller left for the NFL, Porter earned All-Big 12 honors after posting 79 tackles and leading the conference with 9.5 sacks. His 17 tackles for a loss ranked third in the conference that year.
"I love to rush the passer," Porter said. "I like being in the backfield making plays."
Practicing against tackle Luke Joeckel, who could be the top overall pick in this year's draft, was something that helped Porter refine his pass-rushing skills.
"Oh, it helped me tremendously," Porter said. "My pass rush skills definitely improved with those guys. With them trying to toss you around in practice, you got to be sharp if you want to be them. It definitely helped me out."
Prior to his senior season in 2012, Texas A&M hired Defensive Coordinator Mark Snyder, who changed the team's base defense from a 3-4 to a 4-3 scheme.
Porter's sack numbers decreased, but he still posted 66 tackles, including 6.5 behind the line of scrimmage, 3.5 sacks and one interception.
Even though his stats dropped, Porter said the change helped him develop as a football player.
"For a guy like me who got to play under three defensive coordinators in my time, it helped me mature a lot," Porter said. "And it helped me learn a lot about football and ultimately it helped me win 11 games in the SEC my senior year. It was a good thing for me."
Having played both a 3-4 and a 4-3 scheme in college, Porter's versatility is an asset that he hopes to bring to whichever NFL team drafts him. In addition to having experience in both base defenses, Porter played all over the field during his four years at Texas A&M.
"In the 3-4, there were a lot of times I was on the line of scrimmage the whole time," he said. "My sophomore year, I pretty much played nickel. My senior year, I played Mike linebacker when we went to nickel. I did a lot of different things in college. I've gotten very comfortable with both of them."
While his sack numbers dropped, Porter spent more time dropping back in coverage his senior year, a skill that is important to play linebacker at the NFL level.
While talking to teams at the combine, Porter said the coaches and scouts talked about using him in a variety of ways, depending on that team's scheme.
"Some teams like me outside, some like me inside," Porter said. "I think they all want to use me all over the place and play me on special teams right away."
After he replaced Miller as the "Joker" of the Aggie defense, the two stayed in contact and Miller even called Porter the night before the start of the NFL Scouting Combine to offer up some advice.
"He just told me to keep my head up out here and just to do my best," Porter said. "I'm ready for this. I've been training for it a long time. He just kind of had words of encouragement."
Porter followed Miller on the Texas A&M defense and now he is continuing to follow Miller's path to the NFL.
Both players have shown their versatility with the ability to play with their hand in the dirt and rush the passer or line up as a true linebacker and drop into coverage.
Porter is confident that he'll succeed wherever he is drafted, regardless of scheme or what position he is asked to play.
"I've dropped into coverage a lot over my college years, especially this past year learning this 4-3," Porter said. "A couple of years before that I happened to learn a whole new system, learning the 3-4. I don't think the mental adjustments will be a big deal for me because I'm good at picking up defenses and just learning things quick. I'm just excited to get in there and get things rolling."