On Saturday, I threw a curveball at y’all.

After talking up rookie fifth-round pick Tyler Johnson when he was drafted and finding third-year pass catcher Justin Watson’s tape to be better than average, I selected Scotty Miller to win the team’s coveted WR3 job in last week’s PR Roundtable.

Miller played just 177 snaps last season, but in those limited reps he produced plenty of big plays, including averaging 15.4 yards per catch on just 13 receptions. One of those catches went for a score, and two other opportunities were extremely close (down at the half-yard line, touchdown ruled an illegal touch after barely going out of bounds before the catch).

If you’re wondering how 177 snaps and 13 catches is enough to feel good about a guy being on the field for 50-70% of your offensive snaps, it’s a fair question. There is plenty of unknown for all of the Bucs WR3 options, but one thing that is known about Miller is his speed. He ran a 4.36 40 at his pre-draft pro day, and he plays just as fast on the field. That kind of speed opens up a ton of options for him as a route runner.

The boundary safety is late to flip and run, and Miller races right past him for six. He made defenses wince consistently on this deep over route, as his speed to get on top of deep safeties and challenge them after aligning on the opposite side of the field was a real weapon for the Bucs’ passing attack.

Yes, Miller should be more aware of where he is on the field here, but man, he absolutely toasts the Seahawks boundary safety, who is late to see him entering the zone. Also a terrific sliding finish in the end zone for what would have been a touchdown if not for the going-out-of-bounds part.

Safeties gotta be ready, man. If not, they could look very silly, very quickly thanks to Miller’s acceleration.

But Miller doesn’t just win as a receiver because he can run by opponents. It’s actually his ability to use his speed to open up the rest of the route tree that makes him such an intriguing player. Even if Miller were just a one-trick pony in the Bucs’ arsenal, he would probably still see the field a good bit, but because the Bowling Green product has shown the ability to sell speed and open cornerbacks up in his route-running, his arrow could be pointing up.

Panthers cornerback Ross Cockrell is retreating vs. Miller’s speed here, opening up the window for the post throw on the in-breaking route. Because Miller is able to sell speed off the line of scrimmage (burst out of his stance, hard vertical push, pads out over his toes on the release), he achieves separate in his route break. That’s taking a top-tier trait and building on it as a receiver.

Again, Miller gets a great vertical push off the snap, but the opposing corner doesn’t give much ground with safety help over the top. Still, Miller breaks off his route so suddenly that he is able to create separation and make a great sideline catch at the marker. Miller’s ability to snap his patterns off without losing much speed in his breaks is a great trait to have when working with a timing and accuracy quarterback like Tom Brady.

Not quite the vertical push on this catch, but still a crisp route break and good hands to finish outside of his frame at the boundary. Miller has a suddenness to him that is very reminiscent of Cole Beasley in Buffalo. If he’s working against off coverage, he can be deadly at the top of the route.

Miller has had some success against soft press or press coverage, typically from reduced splits that allow him to access a two way go in his release. I wouldn’t want to play him as a boundary ‘X’ outside the numbers, as most outside cornerbacks will be bigger, longer and stronger than his 5-9, 174-pound frame with 29 1/4-inch arms.

Miller is one of the smallest wide receivers in the league, and asking him to win like a big receiver (vs press on the outside, jump balls, red zone fades, slants, etc.) would be a bad idea. Shaq Griffin and Adoree Jackson both bodied him up when he tried to get vertical with an outside release against press. Limitations like that are why Miller is just a complementary piece in an offense and nothing more.

Still there are ways to get Miller open on nine routes without exposing him to press coverage at the line of scrimmage. Bruce Arians loves to utilize stacked releases to give his receivers free access into their routes off the snap. Miller eats up fellow rookie Chauncey Gardner-Johnson with pure speed on this rep, largely because the defensive back is unable to get a hand on him.

One thing Bruce Arians doesn’t do a ton of in his offense is get receivers manufactured, quick touches, but Miller flashed a bit in that regard in his limited opportunities last year. There are some traits worth exploring in the receiver screen game for Miller, who got a couple schemed looks during the 2020 season.

Good vision, decisiveness and quickness from Miller, who apparently earned enough trust as a post-catch receiver in preseason and training camp to earn a few of these called touches in his 13 receptions last season. I’m excited to see what he does with a few more of these in 2020.

The Bucs don’t need a ton from their No. 3 receiver if everyone stays healthy, but Miller provides the best skill set and on-field flashes to seize the role in 2020. He has the vertical ability to at least stretch defenses as a vertical threat, while also offering post-catch ability that could make him a unique early downs weapon. Don’t sleep on Miller’s route-running either, which improved considerably last season. He won’t catch 40 balls in 2020, but he’s the best fit to step into the lineup in Week 1 and make an impact, with or without the football.

Jon Ledyard is PewterReport.com's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft
Subscribe
Notify of
22 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
FireLichtMovement

Bill give it a rest would ya? Why read a Buc fan site just to try and kill the only entertainment we may have left this year, besides the NBA, in a bubble? You sound like you lost your job amid this pandemic buddy. You sound like the old timer who always had his finger up yelling “I told you so!”, while simultaneously yelling at all the whippersnappers, to get off his lawn. Take it easy before you have a heart attack. I know typing in all caps is tough, but don’t worry, I’m sure everyone respects you more for… Read more »

FireLichtMovement

Miller will have a good season. I actually like him for the WR 3 role as he brings an element of DB crippling speed that no other receiver on our roster brings. Similar to what Arians did in Arizona with John Brown, there will be a role carved out for the speedster.

+13
0
Rating: +13. From 13 votes.
Please wait...
danielob

“BILL”, you remind me of my neurotic ex mother -in-law with the all caps, give it a rest. There is a possibility of the season being curtained ( you can look up the big words, bill) or cancelled but to gloat about it during all the crisis’s going on in the world is just trolling, and we don’t need it. Add your vulgar racial referrences to your former posts and you will get a negative reaction on this board. We need football this fall, the country needs it and the Bucs fans need it, so pray for some healing and… Read more »

BigSombrero

I’m always in favor of developing your own talent at skill positions and letting other teams overspend on free agents. This team has a great number of homegrown players they’ve developed at WR, TE, CB and RB.
 
Sure, they should have grabbed a better RB earlier instead of ANOTHER 2nd round Safety, but I digress.
 
Here’s to hoping Brady reverts to his old self from 3 seasons ago and doesn’t continue to play like “Checkdown Charlie” as Chris Simms might say.

+4
-9
Rating: -5. From 13 votes.
Please wait...
FireLichtMovement

You’ll probably get a bunch of dislikes on this comment, but not from me. Not to say that I agree with you BS, but at least you keep it about football, which is more than I can say for some fools on here. That said, I will never bet against the GOAT, or any proven winners such as Arians. In the NFL, a proven track record of winning, is hard to come by. The team made significant strides last year, and hopefully we see even more with a proven winner running point. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00 No votes… Read more »

ScottC543

Yours must be a miserable existence.

+8
0
Rating: +8. From 8 votes.
Please wait...
Dave

If everyone just ignores the racist red neck troll, eventually he’ll go away. Just don’t reply to him. And eventually, either PR will do it’s job, if not, he’ll go away once week 1 starts September 13th. Until then, just don’t read his posts, hit the thumbs down, and go about your day

+15
0
Rating: +15. From 15 votes.
Please wait...
awwdembucs

Bill WHY are you on this site??? Go find something to do that you enjoy, whatever it is.

+12
0
Rating: +12. From 12 votes.
Please wait...
fredster

Like a poor mans Wes Welker perhaps. Speed kills he needs to work on stretching with the conditioning team so his hamstrings hold up.

+7
0
Rating: +7. From 7 votes.
Please wait...
Gatordoc1

Speed doesn’t kill…sudden deceleration kills…

+2
0
Rating: +2. From 2 votes.
Please wait...
bucballer

I like WR Miller’s intangibles. His speed and improved route running will be crucial to his having an impact on this team. Still, he appears to be injury prone. He has to stay healthy if he is to have any chance to be of impact. Like the old saying says,” the best ability is availability. IF he can stay healthy then perhaps he might be able to play the role that WR Hump used to play for us. Here’s hoping that this is even possible.

+1
-1
Rating: 0. From 2 votes.
Please wait...
IDGABuc

There were a TON of hamstring injuries last year to key players and there was a reason for it. Remember what Bruce Arians said last year, after Evans or Godwin went down & maybe even back when Jordan Whitehead did before them? “They needed the reps!”. He was right and he nailed it with the two practice fields going at once! Thanks to the Glazers hiring the biggest staff in the NFL I believe .He ran them hard in a Bucs training came in Tampa Bay heat and had his best WR’s run route after route.. & I get it!… Read more »

bucballer

PR is a Buc fan website. Everyone here is a Buc fan and we discuss all things Bucs! While we all don’t always share each other’s viewpoint, we do respect the dissent. I, for one, don’t appreciate the racist and derogatory comments! We all come here to escape such madness! Let’s keep the conversation respectful and on topic. To do otherwise is just ignorant and shows lack of compassion for ALL that is happening in our society today. I’m just saying…

+13
0
Rating: +13. From 13 votes.
Please wait...
Spitfire

I think they will figure out a way to give all sports players a small dose of the virus so they can take 2 weeks to go ahead and get over it and be able to play no problem. I know if I had 1, 5, 10 or 30 mil on the line to play the season it have a Covid party like they used to do for Chicken Pox and go ahead and Get it over with 😂 In any case. All we can do is let them get started and see how it goes. If Football gets derailed… Read more »

Gatordoc1

would you like some Prozac?

+4
0
Rating: +4. From 4 votes.
Please wait...
Jdgamble31

What’s that👂 ?? Bill, is that your mom calling you for dinner? Why don’t you go crawl back into your hole, NOBODY wants that here!!

GO BUCS !!

+5
0
Rating: +5. From 5 votes.
Please wait...
scubog

Scotty Miller stood out every time he was able to get on the field in between the hamstring boo-boos. My guess it Tom Brady is already salivating over this collection of pass catchers.

+1
0
Rating: +1. From 1 vote.
Please wait...
Johnny Cannons

I think it’s really interesting how each of the possible WR3 candidates has very different traits. Not too difficult to envision that job being rotational based on matchups once Johnson is fully capable of contributing. Should be fun to watch at any rate.

+3
0
Rating: +3. From 3 votes.
Please wait...
Theerealdiehl

Agreed. They will definitely rotate guys based on scheme.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
mjmoody

He didn’t get many targets last year. And it’s tough for me to know if his hands were suspect or it was just Winston’s ball. QB was really bed with his ball placement. (That’s an understatement, right?) But most of the fantasy fans I know are hyped on Scotty. I hope they’re right. Young man has wheels and heart. You can coach up everything else.

+1
0
Rating: +1. From 1 vote.
Please wait...
owlykat

Great article showing all the talents that Miller has in our Offense. I think Brady will want him on the field often. He loves small quick receivers like Miller.

+1
0
Rating: +1. From 1 vote.
Please wait...
Theerealdiehl

Jon, I have to agree with you on this one. With the tape you showed above, I’m sold that Miller will win the WR3 job (barring the unforeseen). Watson could be the wild card due to his size and speed combo, but IDK if he has the body control or the big play catch ability in him. I don’t think Tyler Johnson fits the bill in what they’re looking for on the outside and is best fit for spelling Godwin in the slot. As a former WR with similar size (but nowhere near similar speed lol) as Miller, I understand… Read more »