Five Reasons Why Heath Miller Will Be The AFC Offensive Rookie Of The Year – By Neal Coolong
Steelers Fever Exclusive Editorial
|Think I’m crazy? Think the Steelers are crazy for drafting their first-ever pass-catching tight end? Perhaps there is rhyme and reason to their selection of Virginia’s receiving stud Heath Miller.
Fact: While not used as often as he would have liked (or should have been) the absence of Plaxico Burress frees up the sidelines for opposing corners and safeties to pinch toward the middle in an effort to stop the run. A seam route runner will force those in the secondary to respect Pittsburgh’s ability to control the middle depth of the field, thus negating their ability to crowd the box.
Fact: In the past, the Steelers have used that aforementioned philosophy as a decoy more than anything. You didn’t see Burress downfield all that much, and the combination of TE’s Jerame Tuman and Jay Riemersma seemed to be used for misdirection completions in the red zone only.
He runs like a deer and is as thick as a Virginia ham. Great hands, great balance. The only real knock on him was a sports hernia injury his last year as a Cavalier, but he was still the top TE in the draft. The comparisons fly; he was a college basketball player (for a little while) like Tony Gonzalez. He was drafted roughly at the same place as Todd Heap. You’re looking at a player who fell down the draft not because of his ability; because of the previous 29 teams’ need. And a flourish of other skill position players at the top of the draft.
This isn’t to say we should break out the champagne after picking up a TE to fill a need not commonly associated with a Super Bowl champion (name me the last offense where the TE was the top passing option for a world champion). He’s more a reliable cog for a young quarterback to have to move the chains on third down (the most vital part of a successful team). Jay Novacek, Brent Jones and Mark Chumura were those types of TE’s for Super Bowl winning teams.
And going into camp in a few days, I’m more than excited about the prospects of No. 83 being seen in their light. Here’s why he’ll keep the OROY in Pittsburgh.
3. Run game.
2. Red Zone.
1. Absence of Burress.
Perhaps Miller can wash the taste of Eric Green out of Pittsburgh’s collective mouth. Maybe Cowher and Wisenhunt can make Heath Miller 2005’s version of Jeremy Shockey – the last TE to earn OROY status.
But in the same breath, as long as he isn’t Kellen Winslow Jr., I’m happy.