It wasn't long ago that Von Miller entered the draft as a linebacker with elite pass-rushing skills but concerns about how his size would translate in the pros. Miller went on to become the No. 2 overall pick by the Denver Broncos and has emerged as one of the most feared pass rushers in the NFL.
This year's group of edge rushers -- with the likes of Dante Fowler Jr., Randy Gregory, Shane Ray and Vic Beasley -- might be the best since Miller's 2011 class. And while Beasley's draft projection is not quite as high as the No. 2 pick, many view him as a similar prospect, including Beasley himself.
"A lot of teams saw me with my hand in the ground, comparing me to guys like Cameron Wake," Beasley told the Atlanta Falcons' official website. "But I like to compare myself to Von Miller. He's able to drop in coverage, and we have the same body size, so I try to compare myself after him."
The comparison to Miller makes a lot of sense, especially when you look at their measurables. At the 2011 combine, Miller measured in at 6-foot-3, 246 pounds, identical to Beasley's combine measurements. Both clocked 4.53 seconds in the 40-yard dash, with Miller's being the second-fastest at his position in 2011 and Beasley's being the fastest among linebackers this year. While Miller edged Beasley in the 3-cone (6.70 to 6.91) and 20-yard shuttle (4.06 to 4.15), Beasley outbenched him (35 reps to Miller's 21) and outleaped him (41 inches to 37).
But it's their skills on the field, and the defensive schemes for which they're the best fit, that have scouts and draft analysts comparing Beasley to Miller. NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks -- who in his latest mock draft projected Beasley as the No. 7 pick by the Chicago Bears -- ranks Beasley as his No. 1 outside linebacker in the 2015 draft, calling him "the most explosive pass rusher in the draft" and citing his "exceptional first-step quickness and acceleration," which could just as easily be used to describe Miller as a prospect.
Leading up to the 2011 draft, Miller's size led some scouts to question his ability to play in a 4-3 and be a factor against the run. Similarly, Beasley doesn't quite play as strong as his 35 bench-press reps would suggest, and as NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah noted in his "Move the Sticks" podcast, Beasley often "gets mauled" against the run.
One NFL scout, however, told Zierlein he believes teams that employ a 4-3 scheme shouldn't shy away from Beasley in the draft -- not surprisingly, using Miller as an example.
"I know everyone will have him pegged as a 3-4 edge guy," the scout said. "But I think 4-3 defenses would be crazy not to consider him as a WILL or SAM who can bump down as an edge rusher in third downs. Denver does it with Von Miller, so why not consider it?"