Steven Miller's explosion and speed could make him an ideal returner for the Lions

Posted Jul 9, 2013

After a 43-inch vertical jump at his Pro Day at Appalachian State, Miller has continued to turn heads with his speed and versatility after signing as an undrafted rookie free agent

Steven MillerUndrafted rookie Steven Miller may have what it takes to be the Lions' return man. (Photo: Detroit Lions)

It took a little searching, but in a folder on new special teams coordinator John Bonamego's office computer at Allen Park was a video file of Steven Miller's vertical jump from his Pro Day at Appalachian State.

After leaping beyond the highest point of the vertical bar on his first attempt, the video shows his second attempt.

A panel had to be taken out of the ceiling so the bar could be raised high enough. Miller took a few moments and then preceded to jump 43 inches, after which, the video shows his teammates in attendance going crazy.

During his pre-draft visit to the Lions' training facility in Allen Park in April, Miller told me he was a little disappointed by the jump because he was trying to get to 45 inches.

Whether it was the jump Miller expected or not, it was still impressive to watch. It opened Bonamego's eyes when he saw it, and Miller has continued to turn heads with his speed and versatility after signing as an undrafted rookie free agent.

"There's a couple guys that I'm really excited about," Bonamego told "I can't wait to see Steven Miller in a game and see what he can do. He has that explosive start. He's sub 4.4 (40-yard dash) and he's got the 43-inch vertical jump.

"That's something that's measurable that shows explosion. Now you can draw comparisons off that. How does that measure up to Darren Sproles (33 inches at 2005 NFL Combine)? How does that compare to this guy?"

The Lions need a jolt to their return game after ranking 31st in kick return average and 22nd in punt returns last season. Miller could get the first crack to provide that spark when the team starts training camp in less than three weeks.

Lions scouts knew who Miller (5-7, 173) was while he was rushing for 1,438 yards and averaging 5.7 yards per carry for the Mountaineers last season, but the coaching staff got their first good glimpse of him when they were working out punter Sam Martin.

"We had a good chance to get a feel for him and he caught balls when Sam was punting," Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said.

"So that was really our first exposure to him from a coaching standpoint. He runs real fast, he's got some multi-dimensional skills; he's good with the ball in his hands. We'll see if he can develop into a player that can have a role for us."

That role could very well be the team's new punt and kick returner come the fall. Miller was impressive in OTAs and mini-camp and Bonamego is looking forward to seeing the undrafted rookie in that role come training camp and the preseason – when the pressure's on.

Who ultimately replaces Stefan Logan in that role for the Lions in 2013 will be determined during live action in training camp, but more importantly during the four preseason games.

There are certainly other candidates in the mix to win the job -- most notable Ryan Broyles, Patrick Edwards, Reggie Bush (situational) and Micheal Spurlock -- but Miller is very much in the mix, too.

"My biggest deal is to just show the coaches that I'm going to give them everything I have," Miller said. "And regardless of what happens at the end, they're going to remember my name."