Bears general manager Ryan Pace made an aggressive move by trading into the second round on Friday night in order to select Memphis wide receiver Anthony Miller.
The Bears were without a third-round pick — lost in the Mitch Trubisky trade from a year ago — but had two fourth-round picks to work with. They sent the fifth pick in Round 4 plus a 2019 second-round choice to the Patriots to select Miller at pick No. 51 overall.
In Miller, the Bears got a dynamic young playmaker to add to the remodeled wide receiver depth chart. Miller is about as competitive and driven as they come. He didn’t receive any scholarship offers coming out of high school because of fears of his size and speed, so Miller elected to walk on at Memphis, where his dad played.
Miller went on to excel at Memphis and eventually earned a scholarship from them. Last season, he led the NCAA with 18 touchdown receptions and and finished third with 1,462 receiving yards.
So confident and hungry is Miller that he penned a column for The Players’ Tribune just days before the draft, pitching himself to teams as “the best wide receiver in this draft class.”
If you haven’t read it, read it now: A Letter to NFL GMs.
Do it. You will gain total respect for him and see him in a shiny new light. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
We won’t know for sure what kind of pro Miller will turn out to be, but if attitude and determination are any indication, I think he’s going to be just fine.
“We were surprised that he was there,” Pace said. “As the draft was unfolding, we talked about it and we said, ‘Hey, giving up a future second and one of our fours, we felt he was worthy of that.’ We’re excited about this player.”
As a record-setter in college, Miller’s work ethic and competitive drive are traits that Pace feels will rub off on those around him.
“He’s a guy that’s 100 miles an hour every single snap. That effort. It’s just fun to watch, especially at that position. How hard he plays, not just in the passing game but also blocking and run-after-catch, all those things are really good with him.”
Miller gives new head coach Matt Nagy and quarterback Mitch Trubisky a dynamic, versatile weapon with which to deploy. He joins free agent acquisitions Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel and Trey Burton — along with Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard out of the backfield — to completely revitalize an offense that was lacking punch in 2017.
“I don’t think there’s one thing I can’t do,” Miller said Friday night. “I think I’m just a different kind of receiver, all in one. And someday guys are going to be like, ‘He plays like Anthony Miller.’ I believe I’m a one-of-a-kind type guy.”
If Miller makes good on that kind of confidence at the NFL level, Bears fans will have a lot to cheer about in 2018 and beyond.