Penn State Football

2019 NFL draft: Why the Philadelphia Eagles selected Penn State DE Shareef Miller

Penn State defensive end Shareef Miller reaches for Kent State quarterback Woody Barrett during a game Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018 at Beaver Stadium.
Penn State defensive end Shareef Miller reaches for Kent State quarterback Woody Barrett during a game Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018 at Beaver Stadium. psheehan@centredaily.com

Shareef Miller is going home.

Miller — a hard-working, aggressive defensive end at Penn State — was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles at No. 138 in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL draft in Nashville. Saturday’s news is a dream come true for the Philly native.

“My pop pop might have a heart attack because he loves the Eagles,” Miller said with a smile at Penn State’s Pro Day, when asked about the potential of being drafted by the Eagles. “It would be a real blessing. It would be a great story, coming from Philly, playing at Penn State then going to the Eagles. It would be real good.”

Listed as an EDGE rusher on his NFL Combine profile, Miller had the flexibility to play outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme if need be. Miller actually said at Penn State’s Pro Day on March 19 that more teams talked to him about being a 3-4 pass-rusher than a traditional 4-3 defensive end. He would have been comfortable doing that, too, showing his fluidity in space at the Combine.

But defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz and the Eagles run a traditional 4-3 scheme. Miller will slot in as a backup defensive end on a loaded front-four. Brandon Graham and 2017 first-round pick Derek Barnett will start on the edge, and Vinny Curry will serve as a primary backup. Chris Long might retire, though, leaving an opening for Miller to earn snaps.

Miller’s 40 time (4.69 seconds, 10th-best among EDGE rushers) caught the eye of evaluators. His on-field drills in Indy confirmed the a subtle speed that helped Miller put up numbers in Happy Valley.

The former three-star recruit racked up 26 tackles for loss as a starter in 2017 and 2018. His sack total (12.5 over those two seasons) doesn’t jump off the page, but Miller consistently fought through double teams — setting up sack opportunities for Yetur Gross-Matos, Kevin Givens and Robert Windsor.

Scouts Inc. analyst Steve Muench told the CDT last week that Miller is “light and gets pushed around a bit on tape.” “But he plays hard,” Muench added. “He chases. He gets to the quarterback with effort, which is kind of underrated.”

Muench thought Seattle would be an ideal fit for Miller because the Seahawks run a hybrid 4-3/3-4 front. Miller also visited with the Bills, Saints and Cardinals, per NFL Network reporter Mike Garofalo.

But ultimately, Miller ended up with his hometown Eagles.

“I’m going to be come in and work,” Miller said at Pro Day. “For me to get here is just a blessing.”

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