When the New Orleans Saints used the 2023 NFL Draft's 71st pick on TCU running back Kendre Miller, it wasn't a shock. But hearing how the Saints could use Miller might be.
The 5-foot-11, 215-pound Miller was mostly deployed as a first- and second-down runner for the Horned Frogs, and he did it well, to the tune of 1,399 rush yards and 17 touchdowns on only 224 carries. That's the role many talent evaluators envisioned him playing in the NFL, too.
The Saints, however, appear to have different ideas. Miller recently told the team's official website that despite being underused as a receiver in college (29 catches in 33 games), he believes he can handle a receiving role -- even such as how the Saints have utilized Alvin Kamara, who has 430 catches in his NFL career.
"It was something I never got to show (at TCU)," Miller said. "The coaches here, they've got me on the Jugs (machine) and the tennis ball machines. They were like, we knew it was in you, that's why we drafted you, we know you can catch. Just showing everybody else in the world my ability will be a big thing for me, and I'm ready to get out there and compete.
"How they use (Kamara) is kind of unique, and watching film every day, we watch a bunch of clips of him. How they use him in the pass game, that's pretty cool. I feel like I can step in and pretty much do the same thing."
The Saints appear to agree with Miller's thinking.
"I like the player, I like his downhill running style," Saints head coach Dennis Allen said. "I think he's got really good feet, I think he's got really good contact balance. And he's got the speed to take it the distance if he breaks free in the open field, so there's a lot of qualities about him that I like.
"And look, I don't know that they used him as much out of the backfield at TCU, but I think he's got that skill set."
Miller might have to get up to speed on the Kamara spot in a hurry. In March, Kamara pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit battery and substantial bodily harm charges at a Clark County (Nevada) courthouse, stemming from an incident that occurred in Feb. 2022 during Pro Bowl weekend.
Kamara's trial is set for July 31. If he's found guilty, Kamara could be in violation of the NFL's personal-conduct policy and possibly suspended for part of the 2023 season by the league.
But there's a hang-up for Miller. He has yet to be cleared for action following an MCL injury Miller suffered that kept him out of TCU's National Championship Game loss to Georgia. Miller was unable to participate in the Saints' rookie minicamp last week but said he's ramping up his activity with conditioning drills until he's ready to be cleared for action.
"I've just been doing my technique, with steps and different things, while the other running backs are going," Miller said. "Just trying to get the mechanics down of the different footwork, how it was from college to now. Nothing too hard, but I'm just kind of getting it down.
"I feel great, but the doctors have got to kind of tone it down, be like, 'You're not ready for that now.' But that's just the competitiveness in me."