2023 NFL Draft Rookie Profile: Kendre Miller (Fantasy Football)
In the list of surprises to come out of the 2022 college football season, one that is near the top of the list would be the run of the TCU Horned Frogs. With new coach Sonny Dykes at the helm, they had their first undefeated season since 2010, and despite an overtime loss in the Big 12 Championship to Kansas State, they were selected as the third seed in the College Football Playoff. They went on to beat Michigan in the Fiesta Bowl, and we all know what happened after that. The Horned Frogs lost to Georgia in the National Championship and failed to put an exclamation point on what was a season for the ages at their school.
A big part of the Horned Frogs’ success was RB Kendre Miller. Let’s dig into his rookie profile.
Miller attended Mount Enterprise High School in Mount Enterprise, Texas, about 200 miles from where he ended up at TCU in Ft. Worth. As a senior in high school, Miller rushed for over 2,500 yards and 34 TDs.
In the third quarter of the Fiesta Bowl, Miller went down with a knee injury. It turned out it was an MCL sprain, and it caused him not to play in the National Championship. The sprain prohibited him from participating in any drills at the combine and even forced him to lay low on his pro day. It has been reported that his rehab is moving forward at a solid pace as he is back to squatting heavy weights, but he decided to play it safe during TCU’s recent pro day. Cheering for his teammates QB Max Duggan and WR Quentin Johnson and then meeting with multiple NFL teams, Miller put his best face forward sans tangible measurables.
Editors Note: This article is part of our Rookie Profile series going on until the 2023 NFL Draft. For more on each rookie, check out Andy, Mike, and Jason’s exclusive rookie rankings and production profiles found only in the Dynasty Pass, part of the UDK+ for 2023.
Miller only played in nine games as a freshman at TCU, rushing for almost 400 yards on 54 attempts. 2021 was a better season for Miller, where he played in ten games, sharing the backfield with Zach Evans, a star in his own right. Miller and Evans split rushing duties that season, each running for nearly 650 yards. Miller managed to win the job over TCU’s highest-recruited prospect Zach Evans, and Evans entered the transfer portal after the 2021 season and headed to Ole Miss. The following season Miller became the true RB1. He delivered for the Horned Frogs with strength and consistency, and in 14 games, ran for almost 1,400 yards, the 11th most in his draft class. He coupled that with 17 rushing TDs, tied for 7th in his draft class. Miller was also a semifinalist for the Doak Walker Award, given to the nation’s best RB.
Without testing measurables from the combine or TCU’s pro day, we do not have recently tested numbers for Miller. His last published 40 time was 4.58s (coming out of high school), so it seems he would have had a good showing if he had run at the combine.
Miller has a good size for a running back. He isn’t massive – he would have to put on some weight to be a true three-down bruiser, but he hits all the NFL average numbers for his position. Miller is among the heaviest of his draft class (the same as Bijan Robinson), and his height and breakout age are above average.
Games Viewed: Baylor (’22), Texas Tech (’22), Texas (’22), Oklahoma St. (’22), Michigan (’22)
What’s on Tape
Explosivity and Speed
Kendre Miller is an explosive athlete; you see that from the word go. Whether it is turning on the jets after missing a tackle or running into a defender with his head down and pushing forward, Miller’s ability here is undeniable. When he has to run into defenders, he does so with gusto, dropping his shoulders into them, knowing that his physical strength and ability to turn on a dime often lead to a solid gain after contact. Miller had 816 yards after contact in his final year at TCU, 12th among his draft class. His yards after contact per attempt were 3.64, and he was close to this average each game. Miller was very consistent with this stat during the 2022 season, never being below two yards after contact per attempt. The man is tough and never shies away from contact – he makes the defenders earn their tackle. And if the defenders do not manage to earn that tackle, Miller can turn on the jets and make them regret it. During his final season at TCU, he had 627 yards gained on designed attempts of more than 15 yards. PFF has a stat for explosive runs that they define as runs going over ten yards, and Miller had 75, just three below Bijan Robinson’s 78 in the same category.
Kendre Miller is fast fast 💨💨 pic.twitter.com/v7Os3jxEfj
— Cam Mellor (@CamMellor) October 29, 2022
Balance and Patience
Even though Miller can run into defenders with strength, he doesn’t always need to, as his patience as a runner is one of his best qualities. He is a thoughtful and aware runner – waiting for holes to develop and blocks to be made. Miller averaged 6.2 yards per attempt in 2022 and 6.7 over his tenure at TCU. The 6.2 ties him for 9th in his draft class. You see his patience manifested nicely through his footwork, which dominos into his solid balance. Several times in his film, it looked like he was going down, and he tip-toed his way out of it, regained his balance, and put his foot on the gas.
Kendre Miller is elusive, and not only because PFF says so – he has the 15th-highest elusive rating among RBs in his draft class. Miller had a whopping 70 missed tackles forced during his final year at TCU, a stat that he improved on every year in college. Even in his first year at TCU, when he only had 54 rushing attempts, he had 14 forced missed tackles. All of Miller’s talents play a part in his elusiveness; his explosive speed helps him break tackles, his patience helps him avoid them in the first place, and he uses his footwork to continue to push forward and out of the defender’s arms.
What’s Not on Tape
It has been mentioned before, but we simply do not have current measurables to compare Miller to other RBs in the class. Still, there is no overwhelming reason to believe that they would not be representative of his college trajectory. Miller’s injury was not overwhelmingly bad – nothing like an ACL or Achilles – and he will have had a solid amount of time to rehab it before reporting to his new NFL employee. There was even talk of Miller suiting up for the National Championship game about a week after he sustained the injury. His high school measurables from his 2020 scouting profile show him with a 4.6s 40-yard dash, a 30.9” vertical, and a 6.9s three-cone drill.
Despite #TCU star RB Kendre Miller not working out at Pro Day today as he recovers from an MCL injury suffered in the playoff win, Miller is well ahead of schedule and had meetings yesterday with the #Dolphins, #Jaguars and #Patriots and today with the #AZCardinals and #Texans. pic.twitter.com/GQVm3x1zMH
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 30, 2023
A Receiving Game
Miller is not your go-to pass-catching back. Whereas Miller has a 52% share of his team’s rushing yards per game, this cannot be said for receiving. He only had a 6% share of receptions per game and a 3% share of receiving yards. This does not mean he can’t catch the ball when it heads in his direction – he had a decent 73% reception rate in 2022 and an overall reception rate of 78% during his college career. Undoubtedly, if he were utilized more in the passing game, these numbers would increase. Miller had solid YAC/REC numbers in 2022 – 8.2 yards – so the ability is there. His ability to force missed tackles carried over to the receiving game – he was tied for 9th in his draft class in forced missed tackles after a reception. The main issue is that TCU simply did not use him this way; they let Miller shine in the running game. It would be exciting to see Miller on an NFL team that incorporated him into their passing attack.
Even with Miller’s injury later in his career, he is a solid draft prospect who could have success in the NFL. In classic football speak, he is “ahead of schedule when it comes to recovery,” but we might want to believe this statement. MCL injuries are not the same as ACL injuries, with moderate tears sometimes healing within 4-6 weeks when rehabbed correctly. With Miller getting hurt very early in 2023, come the start of the NFL season, he should be good to go.
There is so much to like about Kendre Miller, and Mike put it perfectly on the premiere episode of The Fantasy Footballers Dynasty podcast – what are we missing? NFLMockDraftDatabase.com projects Miller going in the fourth round. The FOURTH. And he might keep dropping. But why? Is it because he didn’t participate in the combine? The name isn’t fresh in our minds? Whatever the reason, teams could get a steal with Miller if he drops in the NFL draft, the same steal fantasy managers could get in their leagues. Miller checks almost all the boxes for me and is a safe pick all around. The only concern with Miller is draft capital. We know that the NFL is smart and they tell us who they believe will be successful with where they are drafted, so if Miller does indeed fall into the fourth round do we believe the NFL and their lack of belief in him? I am hopeful that teams see the solid prospect that Miller is and draft him accordingly.