Offensive lineman Ryan Miller is a nightmare in the trenches.
Not only is the 6-foot-7, 321-pound Miller a load to handle physically, but he’s also spent his football days since high school building a reputation of being — in his own words — “aggressive,” “nasty” and “vicious.”
“I might not be the most physically sound, but I’ll give you my all and bleed, bite, crawl and scratch to get the job done,” Miller said in a conference call not long after learning the Browns had used their fifth-round pick (160th overall) to select him in last week’s draft.
“It’s just kind of a country-boy mentality of nothing in life is easy and you get what you work for. It’s always just kind of been do or die for me most days of my life.”
Miller’s nasty-boy attitude was built as a prepster at Colorado’s Columbine High School, where Miller said the team ran the ball every play. Wrestling in high school also added to the tough-guy persona.
“It’s where some of the nastiness came from, being matched up one-on-one against a guy knowing that it was my will against his,” said Miller, a former prep Parade All-American.
Miller was the second offensive lineman taken by the Browns. California offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz was picked in the second round as the Browns attempt to shore up the line that will block for new running back Trent Richardson (picked No. 3 overall) and protect new quarterback Brandon Weeden (22nd overall).
Miller is a versatile player who made a school-record 48 career starts, 32 at guard and 16 at right tackle, despite suffering injuries that include a broken arm and fibula (the latter forcing him to miss the remainder of the 2008 season on an NCAA medical redshirt).
But even while sitting out, Miller cultivated a valuable lesson.
“You learn from [injuries],” said Miller, an All-Big 12 honorable mention choice in 2010 who graduated with an anthropology degree in 2011.
Miller’s NFL stock began to rise as a sophomore in 2009 when he more than held his own in a toe-to-toe matchup with then Nebraska and current Detroit Lions standout defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
Miller graded out at a season-high 89 percent against Suh, who went on to become the second overall pick in the 2010 draft.
Miller’s foundation was laid at Columbine.
“My high school coach really kind of laid the path down [to the NFL].”
Miller’s larger-than-normal frame worked well for him as a guard in college, but he’ll compete for the right tackle spot with the Browns.
“I think I’ve got more power in the legs, then I can bend and really extend that leverage out on guys on the inside,” Miller said.
Browns coach Pat Shurmur said Miller’s versatility was a plus.
“He has a tackle body, but he played most of this year at right guard,” Shurmur said. “We think he’s got some flexibility to play either inside, outside, right side or left side.”
Stephanie Storm can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Browns blog at http://www.ohio.com/browns. Follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SStormABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.