Draft Pick Validates Miller's Decision

Draft Pick Validates Miller's Decision

Any player contemplating leaving school early to enter the draft is trying to get selected in the first two rounds to justify their career move. Consequently, Zach Miller, who was selected by the Oakland Raiders in the sixth spot of the 2nd round (38th overall), can sit back and have no regrets about skipping his junior season at ASU. Devils Digest caught up with the tight end after his selection.

"When I decided to leave school early that was my goal – to get picked late first or early second round," said Zach Miller. "So I was satisfied at where I got picked. I was hoping that (former Miami tight end) Greg Olson was gonna go earlier in the draft, because I knew that there were teams at the bottom of the first round that needed tight ends, like Chicago. But he got picked by Chicago. I thought I was gonna get picked a few spots later, because teams that needed a tight end would get worried that wouldn't be able to pick a tight end of my caliber later on."

The Raiders were planning to pick Miller three spots later, at number 33rd, but then decided to swap places with the Arizona Cardinals, and drop 38th. "They knew that none of the teams between 33 and 37 were gonna pick a tight end, so they traded down to get an extra pick," Miller explained. "It's nice to know that they thought so highly of me." Miller admitted that he started getting nervous towards the end of the first round, and carried into the second round prior to his eventual selection.

Many times a player gets blindsided in the draft, when he is picked by a team that barely kept in contact with him compared to his other suitors. In Miller's case, one can argue that early on it was very easy to detect the interest of the silver and black in the ex-Sun Devil standout. "The Raiders did have a few people on pro day, and I knew for a long time that they were one team that could pick me," Miller commented. "I could tell when I talked to Coach Kiffin in the NFL combine how interested they were in me."

Miller will reunite with his old college quarterback Andrew Walter, who was drafted by the Raiders in the 2005 draft. Nonetheless, the tight end is realistic over the chances of him catching passes from his fellow Sun Devil on a regular basis. "It's gonna be cool to play with him, but the Raiders obviously drafted JaMarcus (Russell) with the first pick so we'll see how all that quarterback situation plays out," said Miller. "It will be nice to have someone I know on the team…I didn't have a chance to call him yet, but I plan to."

On Thursday Miller will be introduced to the Oakland media, and will participate in the team's three-day mini-camp which starts the next day. "It's great that I got to stay on the west coast," he stated. "It's not too far from home and my parents can come to see a lot of my games. I think Oakland is a great spot for me and it's a situation where I have a chance to compete for a starting spot and contribute right away. I want to make an impact right off the bat, and I look forward to meeting all the players and coaches and getting to work."

Miller was a Mackey Award finalist in 2006, and in his junior year at ASU he registered 50 passes for 484 yards (9.7 avg.) and four touchdowns. He ranks sixth overall on ASU's career record list with 144 receptions, setting the school tight end mark, over a three-year career. He gained 1,512 yards (10.5 avg.) with 14 touchdowns in his ASU tenure.

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