Player capsule: Steve Miller
Position: Offensive line
Weight: 326 pounds
2016 season quick review: Miller began fall camp last August with an opportunity to climb the depth chart and lay claim to a starting spot, but he was still quite raw from a technical standpoint and didn't practice with the type of consistency Arizona State's coaching staff needed to insert him into the opening week lineup. As a result, Miller was the odd man out up front, serving as a backup at both guard positions and earning most of his playing time when the Sun Devils' injury situation became a significant issue. Miller wound up earning his most extensive playing time late in the year, when a handful of the program's starters were out or limited with injuries.
SunDevilSource.com analysis: A three-star recruit out of Gilbert High in Arizona, Miller was an underrated prospect who was an important addition for ASU's coaching staff back in 2015.
Armed with a world of potential, Miller enters his third year in the program poised to earn his most extensive playing time yet and has a great chance to become the Sun Devils' starting right guard. At 6-foot-4 and 326 pounds, Miller is already one of the program's best NFL prospects because he's a natural, fluid athlete who has no trouble carrying his weight.
With excellent foot speed and a flexible, powerful frame, Miller boasts all of the traits professional scouts look for in young guard prospects at the college level. Though Miller is still learning the nuances of how to play guard, there's no doubt he and fellow sophomore Cohl Cabral are among the most athletically gifted linemen to come through ASU's program during the Todd Graham era.
What prevented Miller from seizing a start spot last season was his consistency, which lapsed at times and allowed more experienced but less physically capable linemen to steal reps from him. This year, Miller will need to demonstrate he can be more violent at the point of attack, play with a nastier streak and develop a more aggressive edge that will allow him to take advantage of his natural gifts.
To this point in Miller's career, creating leverage at the line of scrimmage has been an issue for him. Still, it's an issue that's correctable as he gains more experience and more comfort with his hand placement. If first-year offensive line coach Rob Sale can help Miller develop a more impactful punch at the line of scrimmage, Miller is blessed with the quick-twitch movement skills that can help him progress into becoming one of the conference's most feared drive blockers.
Aside from becoming a more dependable drive blocker, Miller also has the ability to help ASU as a move blocker in space. Junior left guard Sam Jones should be among the most consistent players on the offensive side of the ball for ASU, and it would give first-year offensive coordinator Billy Napier more flexibility if he knows Miller can handle the same assignments Jones can on the opposite side of the line as a pulling guard or as a key blocker when ASU runs stretch plays and outside zone concepts.
At this point in his career, Miller is going to be an equivalent or better athlete than the vast majority of defensive linemen he faces, so it's up to him to hone his fundamental approach, use Sale's coaching points and begin to tap into the potential he brings to the table. Because he's still young, Miller will experience growing pains, but there's very few players on the Sun Devils' roster who possess the type of upside Miller has showcased.
Projected depth chart status: At the beginning of the spring, there were questions regarding the makeup of ASU's offensive line and whether Miller would once again be considered a primary backup as opposed to a starter-caliber player. After 15 practices, Miller did his best to claim ASU's right guard job, as he benefitted from the opportunity to work with the first-team offense on an every day basis as well as an underwhelming spring from fellow sophomore Zach Robertson. Though Miller has every reason to be encouraged by his progress and his current standing on the depth chart, he'll need to demonstrate more consistency and more signs of progress in skill development periods to hang onto the job throughout the fall.