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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Man for the Middle: Bucs Land DT Miller

pr 26, 2009 - On a University of Texas team loaded with stars on both sides of the ball, defensive tackle Roy Miller has been an unsung anchor for the Longhorn defense for the last four years. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers think he can be equally valuable in the middle of their front line.

Miller became the Buccaneers' third-round pick in the 2009 draft shortly after 11:00 a.m. on Sunday. He was selected with the 17th pick of the round and the 81st selection overall.

Defensive tackle was considered an area of need for the Buccaneers after the departure of 2008 starter Jovan Haye. In addition, the team was looking for more size at that position to better accommodate the defense being imported by new coordinator Jim Bates. Miller fits the bill quite well.

At 6-1 and 310 pounds, and with impressive strength and leg drive, Miller is the sort of lineman who can hold the point, even against double teams. At Texas, he often occupied blockers to free up other Longhorn defenders, but he also racked up 138 tackles, 25 tackles for loss and 10 sacks over the course of 49 games.

It's likely that Miller is equally excited about his NFL destination: He lists former Buccaneer star Warren Sapp as his sports hero.

The Bucs wouldn't expect any player to try to duplicate the impact Sapp had on the team from 1995-2003. However, Miller is the highest-drafted defensive tackle for the franchise since Anthony McFarland was their first-round choice in 1999. Tampa Bay has tried to find a wide-bodied DT in the later rounds in recent years — Anthony Bryant, Dre Moore (who remains a promising player on the current roster) — but hasn't invested a pick as high as a third-rounder in that effort in quite some time.

Last year, Miller started all 13 games at defensive tackle and was an All-Big 12 choice by the conference's coaches. He helped the Longhorns rank first in the Big 12 in scoring defense, total defense and rushing defense, logging 49 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, 28 quarterback pressures, four passes defensed and a fumble recovery.

Miller was the team's pick as their most productive defensive player after three games last season, and he consistently impressed the Longhorns' staff with his non-stop effort and intensity. He is a technically sound player who knows how to use his leverage to hold the point and can also shed blocks and pursue down the line.

Miller, who hails from Killeen, Texas, was on the Athletic Director's Honor Roll at UT and he graduated with a degree in corporate communications.

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