The 2018 NFL Draft Prospect series breaks down draft-eligible players, highlighting their college production as well as their NFL potential. Daily fantasy players should know about NFL rookies before they’ve played a down of professional football because they are among the most misvalued assets in all of DFS. People who know NFL rookies have a significant DFS edge. The draft will be held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX, from April 26-28.
This piece is on Memphis wide receiver Anthony Miller.
For more on all the other receivers in the class, see our 2018 NFL draft wide receiver rankings.
Updated as of Mar. 6.
Redshirt Senior | 5’11″ and 201 Pounds | Born October 9, 1994 (Age: 23) | Projection: Rounds 2-3
Combine numbers: 40-yard: DNP | bench reps: 22 | 3-cone: DNP | 20-yard shuttle: DNP | vertical: DNP | broad: DNP
I try not to get too excited about small non-Power Five wide receivers who didn’t break out early in college, didn’t supplement their receiving stats with significant rushing or return production, and will turn 24 years old as rookies — because I’m a realist — but Miller is intriguing. After redshirting his first year and missing his second year to injury, Miller was a reliable receiver for quarterback Paxton Lynch in 2015, finishing first on the team with five touchdowns receiving, second with 694 receiving yards, and third with 47 receptions. The following season, with a new coach (Mike Norvell) and quarterback (Riley Ferguson), Miller took college football by storm, turning 95 receptions into 1,434 yards, 14 touchdowns, and 36.2 and 41.2 percent of Memphis’ receiving yards and touchdowns.
Showing that 2016 was no fluke, Miller last year had 96 receptions for 1,462 yards, 18 touchdowns, and 33.8 and 46.2 percent of the receiving yards and touchdowns. On top of that, throughout his career he chipped in 31 carries for 148 yards and three touchdowns, which isn’t massive but also isn’t insignificant. No one can question his production. He’s prolific. In 2017, he was fifth in the country with 3.47 yards per route run (Pro Football Focus), and he produced all over the field. Playing 37.8 percent of his snaps in the slot, Miller was sixth with 3.43 yards per route from there, leading the nation with 288 yards on screen passes, but he also was sixth in college ball with 12 deep receptions of 20-plus yards. Miller is an all-around receiver with few flaws to his game.
The problem is that there have been lots of productive non-Power Five receivers who do nothing in the NFL — and Miller looks like them. More to the point, he doesn’t look like the non-Power Five receivers who eventually do have NFL success. Let’s compare him to Antonio Brown, who was a sixth-round selection out of Central Michigan. Brown produced immediately as a freshman, and he contributed each year significantly as a runner and returner. That’s not Miller, who wasn’t able to participate in Senior Bowl practices and combine drills because of a foot injury. He might not be able to work out at all in advance of the draft. If he displays strong size-adjusted athleticism before the draft, then Miller will deserve the Day 2 hype he’s getting. If, however, he possesses the athleticism one normally associates with Group of Five prospects, he will at that point look like an expensive version of Justin Hardy, who hasn’t come close to living up to his fourth-round acquisition cost.
Photo Credit: Matt Stamey-USA TODAY Sports