Zach Miller said the vibes he has been getting regarding his NFL draft position have changed little since January, when the tight end chose to forego his senior season at Arizona State.
He is still likely to be chosen in the second round today.
“I feel good about where I am,” said Miller, a Phoenix Desert Vista High graduate who caught 144 passes for 1,512 yards and 14 touchdowns in his three years with the Sun Devils. “A lot of the coaches I’ve talked with know what I can do. That’s encouraging.”
Miller, a 6-foot-5, 259-pounder, is projected to go with the 45th overall pick to Carolina by nfldraftscout.com. Todd McShay of ESPN slots him to Green Bay at No. 47.
Other teams in need of a tight end include Buffalo, Chicago, Cincinnati, Minnesota and the New York Jets.
Arizona, which has the 38th overall pick, also could be looking for a tight end.
However, the mock drafts and team needs are just background noise to Miller, who is confident he will be a productive pro.
“I know that once I’m in the NFL, I’m going to prove myself,” Miller said. “When I show what I can do, I’ll get the respect I deserve.”
He figures to be the second tight end taken, behind Greg Olsen of Miami (Fla.). However, some teams rank Miller best at the position because his skills are more diverse.
The two are different players.
Olsen is more streamlined, almost another wide receiver on the field — the Antonio Gates-style tight end many NFL offenses crave. Miller is a more polished blocker, able to line up in the backfield as an H-back.
Miller has not gotten caught up in the comparisons between Olsen, who is expected to go in the first round, and himself.
“Some people were talking like they want to match us up on a field somewhere and have a competition,” Miller said. “It all comes down to what a team is looking for.”
Olsen’s draft stock rose at the NFL combine in Indianapolis, where he outperformed Miller, who ran a slower-than-expected 40-yard dash (4.87 seconds).
Miller rebounded with a better time (4.72) at ASU’s pro day, but he said his biggest asset is three years of game film in Tempe.
“A lot of that (combine) stuff is overrated, I feel,” Miller said. “You still have to be a football player. Yeah, there are ways to measure a guy, but you see what kind of player a guy is when you turn on the film. The tape doesn’t lie. I think teams know that, too.
“They’ll look at (sprint) times and stuff, but most of your evaluation, I’m finding, is what you do in the game.”
Miller plans to watch the draft at his parents’ Phoenix home, with a modest gathering of family, friends and ASU teammates.
Once he knows his professional destination, Miller’s long journey to the NFL will be complete, and a new life will begin.
“It’s a new place to live in and get settled,” Miller said. “But I think once a team picks you, it comes down to football.
“The minicamp starts pretty quickly, and that will be the fun part. I’m not going to
worry about the contract stuff, I just want to play football. I haven’t been on a field in a while.”
Draft prospects with Arizona ties
Sure selections: Zach Miller, TE, Desert Vista/Arizona State; John Beck, QB, Mountain View/Brigham Young; Joel Filani, WR, Paradise Valley/Texas Tech
Likely picks: Chris Henry, RB, Arizona; Justin Hickman, DE, St. Mary’s/UCLA; Lyle Sendlein, OL, Chaparral/Texas
Possible late-rounders: Andrew Carnahan, OL, ASU; Zach Catanese, S, ASU; Nick Folk, K, Arizona; Michael Johnson, S, Arizona
Long shots: Jesse Ainsworth, K, ASU; Stephen Berg, OL, ASU; Kyle Caldwell, DE, ASU; Jason Murrietta, QB, Northern Arizona; Terry Richardson, WR, ASU; Syndric Steptoe, WR, Arizona