Florida linebacker Ventrell Miller (51) celebrates after a play during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Miami Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Florida linebacker Ventrell Miller is staying home to begin his professional career.
The Jacksonville Jaguars selected Miller, a team captain in 2022, with the 121st overall pick in the fourth round of the 2023 NFL Draft. It’s the sixth time the Jags have taken a Gator since 2013, and Miller becomes the fourth Gator selected in this year’s draft after QB Anthony Richardson (#4 to the Colts), DT Gervon Dexter (#53 to the Bears), and OL O’Cyrus Torrence (#59 to the Bills). The selection also means that Florida has had four or more NFL Draft selections in ten out of the last eleven years, with the exception being last year.
Ventrell Miller, to be clear, has stats to justify a fourth-round selection. As the de facto quarterback of the Florida defense, Miller racked up 216 tackles in the three seasons that he started and stayed healthy in 2019, 2020, and 2022. He also batted away two passes and forced two fumbles in 2022.
But Miller earned this selection on his heart, grit, hustle, and intelligence. Though a bit undersized for a middle linebacker in the SEC, Miller made up for that with his range, nose for the ball, and unteachable football IQ. Even when Miller didn’t have a hand in the tackle, he’d often redirect the play or be somewhere around the ball when the whistle blew.
His consistent ability and willingness to do all the little things can be attributed to all of that. He always takes the right angle toward a ball carrier, displaying great understanding of his speed as well as the runner’s speed, and his highlight film is littered with plays that he’s made on every square inch of width that exists between the sidelines. He’ll probably need to learn to get a little bit lower when making a tackle in the NFL, but the rest of his tackling technique is very sound.
The big knock on Miller is something he can’t help or fix: his size. He’s compensated for it through his football career so far, but doing so at the SEC level just isn’t the same as doing it in the NFL. As a result, adjusting to the physicality of the NFL is likely going to be a little more difficult for him than most linebackers drafted in the first four rounds.
But every time he stepped on the field at Florida, Ventrell Miller made his teammates better and led by example at the highest level of college football. He’s a natural leader and exactly the kind of teammate NFL teams want, and his small size seems to have given him a little extra motivation throughout his football career thus far.
Thanks for everything, Ventrell. Stay healthy, and all the best. Here’s to a long, successful career.