TCU might have been the best story in college football in 2022 — and certainly one of the most surprising.
TCU started the season unranked and something of an afterthought amongst evaluators. But then they just refused to lose throughout the regular season and finished the year as the fourth-ranked team in the nation. Running back Kendre Miller was a big reason behind TCU’s success. He quickly established himself as a dangerous weapon for the Horned Frogs and one of the most explosive runners in the nation.
The New York Giants could have an opening in their running back depth chart in 2023, and certainly could use another explosive playmaker. Could Miller be an asset as they continue to build their offense?
Prospect: Kendre Miller (33)
Games Watched: vs. Oklahoma (2022), vs. Texas (2022), vs. Baylor (2022), vs. Kansas State (2022 Big-12 Championship Game)
Red Flags: Knee (vs. Michigan, 2023)
Games Played: 33
Yards (YPC): 2,410 (6.7 per carry)
Yards (YPC): 229 (7.9 per catch)
Total Touchdowns (rushing/receiving): 27 (26 rushing, 1 receiving)
Games Played: 14
Yards (YPC): 1,399 (6.2 per carry)
Yards (YPC): 116 (7.3 per catch)
Total Touchdowns (rushing/receiving): 17 (all rushing)
Best: Vision, contact balance, agility, quickness, speed, explosiveness, competitive toughness
Worst: Strength, route diversity, pass protection
Projection: A starting or “1b” rotational back with scheme diversity
TCU’s Kendre Miller is a lean and explosive running back prospect.
Miller was only sparsely used in his first two seasons at TCU, but rewarded the Horned Frogs with a breakout season in his junior year. Last year, he carried the ball 224 times, averaging 6.2 yards per carry and scoring 17 touchdowns en route to helping TCU to the College Football Playoffs National Championship.
Miller typically aligned next to the quarterback in TCU’s spread offense and was asked to run both between the tackles in power run plays and outside the tackles. He runs with great tempo and patience behind the line of scrimmage, giving the offensive linemen time to establish their blocks before accelerating through the line of scrimmage. Miller also has fantastic vision to all levels of the field. He does a good job of tracking and anticipating defenders, as well as using his path to the line of scrimmage to manipulate their angles. He shows a good understanding of how his approach to the line of scrimmage can help set up his blockers.
Miller pairs his vision with great quickness, agility, and explosiveness, which allow him to turn a sliver of daylight into an explosive play. He also has very good contact balance and the ability to run through incidental contact as well as pick his way through the trash around the line of scrimmage. He also shows the ability to run through stumbles and regain his feet if his stride disturbed around the line of scrimmage.
Once in the open field, Miller has very good long speed and is able to out-run most defensive backs.
He is also a capable receiving threat out of the backfield. He does a good job of presenting the quarterback with a defined target and is a good “hands” catcher. He makes good adjustments to the ball in flight and has the ability to bail out his quarterback on inaccurate passes as a check-down target.
Miller isn’t a big running back, but he runs with very good toughness. He shows no hesitation in picking up what the defense allows him when running between the tackle. Likewise, he consistently runs behind his pads to fight for extra yardage as he’s being tackled.
That said, Miller is definitely not a “power” back. His utility in short-yardage situations depends on his explosiveness rather than an ability to push the pile through main strength. Likewise, he is a willing pass protector but doesn’t seem to really “attack” defenders, nor does he have the mass to stonewall them. Instead, he does just enough to buy his quarterback precious seconds. Teams might be forced to use Miller as more of a check-down option out of play-action rather than a pass protector early in his career.
Finally, teams will want to do their due diligence on the knee injury suffered by Miller in TCU’s playoff game against Michigan.
Overall Grade: 7.6
TCU’s Kendre Miller projects as a starting running back or an important role player in an active rotation at the NFL level.
His exact projection and role will likely depend on the situation into which he’s drafted. If Miller lands on a team with an established running back, he will probably start out (or quickly become) a “1-B” or change of pace back. That might be the best environment for him, particularly if the veteran back is a bigger and more powerful runner. His vision, agility, and quickness allow him to identify and exploit quick-closing holes, and there are occasions where he disappears into a pile, only to reappear downfield with no apparent running lane available. That could make a “Thunder and Lightning” pairing particularly dangerous.
But by the same token, Miller’s explosiveness and versatility as a runner could allow him to seize a true starting job in an open competition. Miller has a lean build compared to the thicker physique that has typically paired with the spread concepts that are influencing the NFL. But a team that is willing to look at the running back position as a viable weapon and not just a way to control the clock could fall in love with Miller.