Three things you need to know about new Buccaneers WR Scotty Miller

Photo by Andrew Weber/Getty Images

The Buccaneers used their first six picks in the 2019 NFL Draft without taking an offensive player. The first five guys were on the defensive side of the ball, then the sixth was a kicker. Well, with a sixth round selection (the 208th overall pick), Tampa Bay took wide receiver Scotty Miller out of Bowling Green.

Ever since Adam Humphries signed with Tennessee in free agency, talks about his replacement have been ongoing. Clemson’s Hunter Renfrow was a popular name, both because he was well-known and because he came from Humphries alma mater. After Renfrow went to Oakland in the fifth round, the Bucs brought in Miller, another guy who fits the Humphries mold. At 5-foot-9, Miller is a little bit smaller than the former Buc and current Titan, but his speed is better.

Miller joins the competition for the team’s open roster spot(s) at wide receiver. Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Breshad Perriman are obviously the top three starters, but some mix of Miller, Bobo Wilson, Justin Watson and Sergio Bailey will join them on the active roster. Here, we have three things you need to know about new Bucs wide receiver Scotty Miller.

Miller’s speed is elite, which makes him a good fit in Tampa

A lot was said throughout Thursday, Friday and a lot of Saturday about new Bucs head coach Bruce Arians not getting any new offensive guys to work with. Of course, Arians is an offensive guy, so there was some expectation that the team might address that side of the ball at some point. It took a while, but the player that the team settled on fits the ideal characteristics of a slot receiver in Arians’ system.

Miller is undersized, but he is extremely quick. At his pro day, he ran a 4.39-second 40-yard dash. For reference, Adam Humphries’ 40 time at his pro day was 4.53 seconds. With that kind of speed, it’s not much of a shocker that Miller is a former track star. At Barrington High School, he was a three-year varsity football player AND a three-year letterman in track. That speed was put on display with Bowling Green, making him an under-the-radar prospect in this year’s draft. His NFL.com draft profile touts his “legitimate sprinter’s speed” and the “early acceleration to blow past mismatched cornerbacks from slot.”

Speed aside, Miller is a good fit for the slot position under Arians. Not only that, but Jameis Winston had an excellent connection with Humphries. With him gone, it sure would be huge for the next man up to step right in and develop a rapport with Tampa Bay’s quarterback. Miller’s draft profile also talks of his “impressive catch finishing through heavy collisions.” Which former Buc does that remind you of? All right, enough with the comparisons. The point is, Miller could be a viable contender for a role on the team, even coming out of the sixth round.

Miller is the definition of overlooked

In high school, Miller played free safety as a sophomore and then played on both sides of the ball in his junior and senior seasons. He had 1,500 receiving yards and 28 total touchdowns in his last two seasons at Barrington. That kind of production earned him two all-conference honors and two all-area selections. Despite all of that, he didn’t receive much interest at the Division I level. Bowling Green was the only Division I program to give Miller a shot, and he took it.

As a sophomore in 2016, he led the team with 74 catches for 968 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also returned punts and kicks, which added to his resume that earned him a First-Team All-MAC selection. In his junior year, he posted team-highs for catches (63) and yards (722) while picking up four more touchdowns. That season earned him Third-Team All-MAC honors. His senior year in 2018 was what should’ve attracted the most attention. He led the Falcons with 71 catches, 1,148 receiving yards and nine touchdown catches. Miller led the conference in catches and yards, while finishing third in touchdown receptions. Despite being near the top of every category, he was only named to the All-MAC Second Team.

In his college career, Miller caught 215 passes for 2,867 yards and 23 touchdowns. He averaged 13.3 yards per catch and totaled 3,736 all-purpose yards. But even with all of that, he didn’t get an invite to the Senior Bowl, the East-West Shrine Game or the NFL Scouting Combine. Being undersized AND playing at the “Group of Five” level can be tough for a prospect, but that doesn’t matter much anymore. Miller is getting his shot with Tampa Bay.

Miller showed up in big games at Bowling Green

One of the big knocks on players from the “Group of Five” conferences is that their level of competition can skew their numbers. Not only that, but their tape might be “deceiving” if they’re matched up with lesser talent than what exists in conferences such as the SEC, ACC and Big Ten. But Miller can push aside all of those doubts while also having proof that he is capable of showing up in big games.

An article from The Blade in Toledo pointed out that knack for stepping up on the big stage:

“In college, Miller seemed to save his best for the Falcons’ top opponents. Against the three Power Five teams BG played in 2018, plus its four MAC opponents who finished with a winning record — Buffalo, Ohio, Toledo, and Western Michigan — Miller racked up 47 catches, 835 yards, and nine touchdowns.”

That kind of production under the brighter lights is certainly encouraging. In a season-opening matchup at Oregon in 2018, Miller caught 13 passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns. Later that month, he put up 117 yards on 10 catches at Georgia Tech. The speedster saved his best game for conference foe Western Michigan, as he caught eight passes for 206 yards and two scores. Overall, Miller had six 100-yard receiving games in 2018. His size didn’t seem to matter much in college. He can clearly play. Now, he’ll set out to prove that at the professional level with the Buccaneers.

You can find Scotty Miller on Twitter at @ScottyMillz1. Take some time to congratulate him and welcome him to Tampa Bay.

Comments

Little correction

He was taken at the end of the 6th, not the beginning of the 7th

Thanks for the heads up.

Saw the pick graphic on the Bucs’ Twitter that said seventh and messed up here. Got that fixed. Thanks for reading!

am I going crazy, I thought we didn't have a 6th rounder? How did we get one? Ehh maybe we didn't have a 5th?

help me out someone, please.

We had a pick every round

Got a 6th for DeSean; swapped our 6th with Arizona for their 7th when we got Bruce

It's Kenny Bell part deux

*minus the hair

Apparently Arians's staff didn't like Bobo Wilson?

Frankly, we have two tight ends who could play slot. A slot receiver doesn’t need to be a scrappy little dude. Brate would make a great slot.

Situationally yes

He can’t block and he finds the sweet underneath spots but then we run into the $7 M salary. For a WR 3 or TE 2 that is ghastly excessive. I like him and what he has done here a lot but he is fat that needs to be cut or traded.

Can't cut him.

If we cut him, his entire $7M is paid out anyways and counts as dead money against the cap. His money became fully guaranteed on the 5th day of the league year this season, which was back in March.

I recall you bringing that to our attention then as well as the fact that if Brate is traded this year his new team is still responsible for the $7 M. Thanks for the reminder though.

I hope the Bucs can move Brate soon and get something for him rather than cut him after the season and get nothing but the cap relief. I don’t see Arians using a lot of 2 TE sets but many other teams do or desire to be able to do so so there is a market for him. I hope the Bucs can start moving on from players a year early rather than find themselves where they are with McCoy. Similarly, opening up money in the budget to re-sign O.J. Howard before its urgent and a problem that could undermine other position groups would be wise. I like Brate as a Buc but with Howard on the trajectory he is he is sort of a dead man walking.

We don't have a true slot receiver with the speed to take the top off the defense.

Because of his excellent raw speed, I’m guessing Miller was legitimately the highest rated player on our board when we made this pick. I always expected we’d take a fast receiver on day 3 of the draft. I thought it would probably be the 5th round, but I think this pick fits with what Arians likes to do. This is the same coach that unearthed John Brown in the 4th round.

Not saying Miller will be that kind of player. But he has one or two elite tools, and they’re tools Arians values at a high level.

One thing I like on his film is that he has a great outside release on vertical routes when the opposing CB gives any cushion. I doubt he can beat press coverage since I didn’t see it on any of his highlights. I couldn’t find any raw game film.

Also drafted JJ Nelson in AZ

Who was actually smaller than Miller, but also a burner

Yea, good call.

Oh, awesome!

It’s 2 years old, and it’s only two games, but I appreciate it. Thanks a lot for finding that.

One thing I noticed is that I only saw him line up outside like once or twice in those games, whereas he was lined up outside on a fair number of his snaps in his 2018 highlight reel. BGSU used him on a lot of digs and crossing routes, and he was often really sloppy at the top of his route on those. As expected, he got his lunch eaten against decent press coverage quite a few times, but he also had some really quick counters on the initial reach that popped. I saw more of that in his more recent highlights, so it’s something I think he’s worked on and improved. His routes on vertical and outside routes tend to be cleaner and more effective, although even with his sloppy routes inside, he was able to make up for that with his speed a lot of the time to create separation. Of course, that was also in college. And I don’t really know how much he improved on in-breaking routes in his senior year. The speed definitely jumps off the tape, even against far superior competition in Michigan State. He had one bad drop, but also a couple impressive hands catches on roughly thrown balls, and his YAC potential is clear with that speed. A minor note – he’s not great at it or anything, but he’s also a super willing blocker both in the running game and after catches by teammates. He’s not gonna register any Mike Evans pancakes at his size, but he gets in the way and maintains lanes for runners behind him well.

All in all, I like him a lot as a 6th round pick, especially knowing what Arians wants to do vertically from the slot sometimes. He obviously has a ton of competition for snaps on this team in Evans, Godwin, Perriman, Watson, Bobo, and both TEs, but I think he could compete to get some looks, and I’d be surprised if we didn’t give him a shot as a returner with his speed, although I don’t know how effective he’ll be there. It’s something he did his first two years in college, but the team stopped using them there his last two years.

Sure, Brate can play slot, depending on what you want from your slot receiver.

Brate lacks the speed to stretch the defense vertically. I’m sure we’ll see some plays this season with Brate split into the slot against LBs, but to play that role extensively, he’s not really a great fit in this offense, assuming it’s similar to what Bruce ran in AZ.

Ladies and Gentlemen... Scotty Don't... Scotty Ne pas...

I get all the DB picks because the Bucs secondary sucks. The WR corps does not but it seems by this and the UDFA pick-ups there is not a lot of appreciation for what is on the roster. It would be fine if the Bucs snagged some hog-mollies early- or late but all these nifty gizmo WRs are shite if the QB is not given basic protection. I must be missing something.

Apparently the Bucs were going to draft Diontae Johnson

..another MAC receiver for the gadget role, but the Steelers grabbed him just ahead of them in R2. Miller is very similar and switched off with Johnson as 1st Team All MAC during their careers, but Johnson was also a top notch returner which made him more valued. We can watch how their careers go. After the Steelers took Johnson the Bucs traded back from 70 for two late R3 picks they used on Jamel Dean and Mike Edwards. Got Miller in R6.

Where'd you get the Diontae Johnson thing?

Thanks. That's interesting.

I find it odd to hear that the league was so high on him. He doesn’t really seem to mimic any of Arians’s previous receiver finds in the mid to late rounds of the draft from a tools/skills standpoint. I didn’t scout him at all, so I admit I don’t know much about him. Ultimately, I’m probably glad he was taken ahead of us. I think the drafting of 3 DBs with our first 4 picks was ridiculous, but with our offensive weapons, I’m STILL currently glad we took the two of them over this guy.

I don't know a ton about this kid,

but what I’ve found, I do like. He’s got some upside for a late round pick, which I much prefer to the obvious bottom of the roster types (i.e. our 7th rounder, DE Terry Beckner Jr.). It may not end up playing in the NFL (very few 6th round skill sets ultimately do), but I love Miller’s speed and quickness.

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