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.