The TCU Horned Frogs surprisingly made the College Football Playoffs, and one of the team’s star contributors was junior running back Kendre Miller. Unfortunately, Miller was injured early in the Semifinal win versus Michigan and did not play in the Championship game. Miller averaged over six yards a carry, and his draft stock increased with his strong 2022 season. On the final day to declare, Miller opted to enter the 2023 NFL Draft, forgoing his senior season.
- College: Texas Christian University
- Height: 6’0”
- Weight: 210 lbs.
- Age: 20 yrs. (June 11, 2002)
- Year: Junior
- Draft Projection: Day 2 – early Day 3
Miller hailed from Mount Enterprise, Texas, a Class 2A school in eastern Texas about three hours from Dallas and Houston. He had several offers as a three-star back, with TCU being the highest profile. It didn’t take long for him to establish himself as the man in the Horned Frogs’ backfield.
The young back made his way onto the field as a freshman, rushing for 388 yards on 54 carries, but his sophomore season saw the biggest step forward. As the season wore on, Miller slowly took on more of a role. He rushed for 623 yards on 83 carries, a 7.5 YPC average, and found the end zone eight total times.
The TCU offense was balanced and more potent in 2022. The passing game, with Max Duggan and stud wideout Quentin Johnston, was efficient and dangerous. But the running game had the ability to take over games, and junior Miller was the biggest reason.
Reaching the end zone 17 times, a top-ten showing, Miller also rushed for 1,399 yards and caught 16 passes for 116 yards. He was third in the Big 12 in rushing yards and rushing attempts and second in TDs and rushing yards per attempt. He eclipsed 100 yards seven times in eight games in the middle of the season, as TCU started out with twelve straight wins.
Power and balance through contact are a few of Miller’s strengths. It’s not elite, but it’s very close. He puts his hand down to maintain “alive” and keep running a lot – it’s something I saw on tape many times.
On this play, he is hit multiple times around the line of scrimmage but maintains his balance, drops his hand down to keep the run going, and picks up twenty yards.
This is one of my favorite plays, it showcases several strengths. Miller snares the ball just before it hits the grass and then transitions quickly into a runner. He uses the balance to regroup and is quickly several yards upfield, breaking four tackles in the process.
With the contact balance, Miller has strong vision and diagnoses routes to use his blockers well. He works through the line efficiently and allows blockers to set up. He also knows when to go inside or outside when plays break down.
Against Texas, it was a tough game for both offenses, and Miller was a rare bright spot. This play shows how he uses blockers as he runs inside. It’s not a huge run, but it showcases his footwork and vision to get some good positive yards.
Here’s a play that shows decision-making and elusiveness. Miller is almost taken down in the backfield but shifts slightly to avoid the hit. The play is designed to go outside, but Miller turns in it to make sure it’s a positive play. Contact balance through another hit, and he nearly scores on what could have been a broken play.
All of that bundles together, and then Miller’s awareness of where the defenders are caps it off. He’s got solid spatial awareness and knows when to take what the defense gives. Miller gains yardage on so many of his runs, he knows when to best take the run north and south.
The spin move here – Miller is deftly adept at knowing when to use it – and then he shoots upfield where the hole had developed. He’s got moves and seems to know exactly when to use them more often than not.
I wanted to finish with one of my favorite plays. Miller takes it inside first but then sets up defenders on the second level and above. He splits defenders after a quick outside juke and then takes off for a massive gain. Unfortunately, it also showcases one of the things to be concerned about.
Lack of Breakaway Speed and Explosiveness
Miller has some wheels, but he isn’t going to run away from the defense. In the aforementioned play, Jahmyr Gibbs and Deuce Vaughn would have got past the two defenders’ split, and they both would have likely scored. Miller doesn’t have that game-breaking speed, and he had long runs, but he’s not a strength.
It’s the same with explosiveness; I think it’s there, but it isn’t as lethal. Some of the plays above showed a flash of it, Miller can plant his foot and get upfield. But it’s not next-level explosive, he’s not going to be able to do some of the same things in the NFL – when holes close quicker.
Lack of Pass Catching
Miller caught 29 passes over three seasons, so there is some history of pass-catching. But it was mostly on screens and check downs, not advanced pass routes. Miller has good hands, so I am not worried about that aspect. But I would have liked to see more as a pass catcher.
The Wrap Up
I have to put aside my personal rankings and look more objectively at some players I write up. Miller is certainly one of those players. I have him as my RB3 and have for about a year, I love what he brings to the table. I realize his limitations and what could hold him back, though. Miller has great size and could be a three-down back, but I realize he may be a bit limited by speed and explosiveness.
The NFL should love the tape and size, but I think he’s an early third-day pick in the 2023 Draft. I would love to see him land in the third round for a team with a need, but this class is going to push some RBs down, and I’m afraid Miller could be one. The NFL may see him as a complimentary two-down running back, and he could never be a valuable fantasy asset.
Draft capital is critical for Miller more than most backs, and it will tell us all we need to know heading into rookie drafts. Personally, I am targeting him in the late first round and the early second. I love his skillset and contact balance, think he can develop as a pass catcher and could be a reliable NFL running back.
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