Memphis wide receiver Anthony Miller could be a steal for the Bears at No. 51 overall in the second round of the NFL Draft.
Just ask him.
“I’m more than a receiver,” the 5-11, 200-pound Miller said after the Bears traded a 2019 second-round pick and a 2018 fourth-round pick (105th overall) to the Patriots to get him. “But I have all the capabilities of a receiver. I can run, catch the ball, my YAC [yards after catch], I would call it a 10 out of 10. I have great hands, and I’m also physical, which a lot of people don’t know about me. My passion for the game is just unmatched, especially at the position I play.”
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Virtually unrecruited out of Christian Brothers High School in Memphis, Miller walked on at Memphis with a massive chip on his shoulder that motivates him to prove everybody wrong to this day. From the scout team as a freshman in 2012, Miller sat out the 2013 season with a shoulder injury and blossomed into a star in Memphis’ entertaining, high-powered offense. He had 95 receptions for 1,434 yards (15.1 average) and 14 touchdowns as a junior in 2016 and — after deciding against going to the NFL — had 96 receptions for 1,462 yards (15.2 average) and 18 touchdowns last season.
He was surprised to be drafted by the Bears but appreciative that they made such a big move to get him.
“It means a lot. It shows they really wanted me,” Miller said. “I’m going to prove everybody who passed me up wrong. The Bears are going to get all I got. They’re going to get the Memphis Grind [a work ethic found only in Memphis]. I don’t think they’ve seen that yet. But I’m going to introduce them to it.”
Miller suffered a foot injury in the Liberty Bowl that prevented him from working out at the combine and might have caused him to drop in the draft. But trading a future second-round pick indicates just how eager Bears general manager Ryan Pace was to get Miller.
“We were surprised that he was there,” Pace said. “We feel fortunate to get him where we [did]. And that’s why we were aggressive going up to do that. I don’t know if [the injury is] why he fell, but we’re happy that he did.”
Pace had a long list of attractive qualities that made Miller such a must-have: competitiveness, toughness, quickness on routes, hands, work ethic. And especially that brash mentality.
“That confidence — we like that,” Pace said. “[Coach] Matt [Nagy] and I were just talking about that swag and energy he plays with. Those are infectious things. He’s a guy that’s 100 miles an hour every single snap. That effort — it’s just fun to watch, especially at that position. How hard he plays, not just in the passing game, but also blocking and run-after-catch. All those things are really good with him.”
Miller, who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.48 seconds and had a 39-inch vertical at his pro day, has been compared to Steelers All-Pro receiver Antonio Brown and Packers receiver Randall Cobb — and the Bears’ Kendall Wright.
“I don’t want to be compared to anyone,” he said. “I believe I have attributes and skills that a lot of players could say they have, but I don’t think there’s one thing that I can’t do. I believe I’m just a different type of receiver all in one — and someday guys are going to be like, ‘Oh, you play like Anthony Miller,’ because I believe I’m a one-of-a-kind type of guy.”