Opportunity Knocks for Safety Miller

Tanner Miller, a three-year starter at Iowa, chose Green Bay among five offers after going undrafted. Miller had seven career interceptions and is on par with HaHa Clinton-Dix athletically.

Tanner Miller was well aware of the Green Bay Packers' depth chart at safety.

Yes, the Packers used their first-round pick on HaHa Clinton-Dix. That was the only move, however, at a position in which the starter for the previous two seasons, M.D. Jennings, was allowed to walk in restricted free agency.

So, with presumed starters Clinton-Dix and Morgan Burnett joined by Chris Banjo and Sean Richardson, Miller pounced on the Packers' offer in undrafted free agency.

"Definitely," Miller said when asked if he was aware of the safeties on the Packers' roster. "That's just the thing. I'm going to come in here and work as hard as I can and compete. Any time you have not too many guys at a position, that's one thing you need. Competition is what makes a team great and that's what will make this defense great is bringing in as much competition as we can."

Miller was a three-year starter at at Iowa. He had three interceptions, a forced fumble and 70 tackles as a senior to give him career totals of seven interceptions, three forced fumbles and 222 tackles.

Athletically, he's not great — though, it should be noted, he's about on par with Clinton-Dix. Miller (6-1, 211) ran his 40 in 4.59 seconds with a 35.5-inch vertical jump at Iowa's pro day. He went undrafted and had offers from five teams on the table.

"It all happened really fast," he said. "Teams were calling me within the last hour of the draft, so it was going to come down to me having my choice of where I wanted to go. I kept in communication with my agent and we did an analysis of each team and we decided this was the best place for me."

Along with the golden opportunity to earn a spot on the roster, Miller joins former Iowa teammates Micah Hyde, Mike Daniels and Bryan Bulaga on the roster. Heading into this draft, Packers general manager Ted Thompson had drafted more players from Iowa (four) than any other school.

"Me and (Hyde) are really close friends — we have been ever since I came into Iowa," Miller said. "He was one guy that I knew was a really smart kid and he's someone that always did things right. Him being here, it couldn't be more perfect for me to see how he conducts himself as a professional and know that I can go to him whenever I have any questions. I couldn't ask for anything better than that."

While the draft picks and most of the undrafted rookies started arriving in Green Bay on the Sunday after the draft, Miller didn't make it into town until Thursday night as he wrapped up his final exams at Iowa. So, he got the playbook one night and was on the practice field the next day. It was a night-and-day difference in playbooks, Miller said, with Iowa running a "vanilla" 4-3 scheme while Green Bay operates out of a "sexy" 3-4 scheme.

"I was just thrown into the fire," he said. "You had to learn on the fly. You get thrown into that first meeting on Thursday night and they throw a lot at you. They want to see how fast you can pick things up and be put under pressure a little bit to know your stuff and come out on Friday and practice well."

Other than Clinton-Dix (first round) and Burnett (third round), the rest of the Packers' safeties entered the league as undrafted free agents. With more undrafted rookies on last year's Week 1 roster than players taken in the first three rounds, Miller is well aware of the opportunity in front of him.

"They've always had one or two guys that have been free agents who not only made the team but have actually played," he said. "That's a good statistic to know and it's something I can look forward to."

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.

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