Harlan Miller isn’t sure how he’ll celebrate the upcoming NFL draft.
Projected to go anywhere from the third to sixth round, the former Southeastern Louisiana cornerback doesn’t want any lavish parties or high profile events. Most likely he’ll be with his family and friends at his apartment in Hammond.
The only thing Miller is sure of is that Saturday — or Friday (in the second or third rounds) if he’s lucky — will be a much welcomed relief once it’s over.
“I’m kind of nervous,” Miller said. “It’s just being patient and waiting for it to get here. Once it gets here I guess the rest of the emotion will fall into place.
“I’m just ready for it to be over with.”
For the past five months, Miller’s life has revolved around preparing for the draft.
First, it was a trip to Boca Raton, Florida, where he trained with workout guru Tony Villani at the Extreme Performance Enhancement program.
Miller knew he needed to work on his flat speed and size if he was to make a splash with NFL teams in the upcoming months.
The nagging critique of the Football Championship Subdivision All-American throughout the draft process has been a lack of size and questions about if he could put much more weight on his small frame.
Miller is currently at 6-foot, 183 pounds, which he says is about 12 pounds more than what he weighed at the end of his senior season, but is only three pounds more than what the Lions have him listed at in the 2015 media guide. Either way, it’s only one pound more than his weight at the NFL combine in February.
“I try not to look at it, because you don’t know what goes on in those war rooms on draft day,” Miller said. “Everybody has their own opinions. You just have to get that one team to like you.”
Miller was able to answer some questions surrounding him at the Senior Bowl in January, when he took home Defensive Player of the Week honors.
Miller recorded a game-high seven solo tackles for the South.
For the Lions, Miller finished third in the Southland Conference with 14 passes defended and fourth with four interceptions this season.
Southeastern coach Ron Roberts said Miller’s biggest strength — both in his personal opinion and from what he’s heard from the more than two dozen NFL teams he’s heard from in regards to Miller over the past few months — is undoubtedly his instincts and coachability.
“He’s up to stock with his interview process and his knowledge of the game,” Roberts said. “A lot of teams are really happy with him once they get him on the board and find out what he knows and how intelligent he is.”
That generally lines up with what Miller has heard from teams, as well.
Miller said he’s done at least a cursory interview with most teams, including more complete interviews with the Colts, Browns, Buccaneers, Steelers and Titans at the NFL Combine in February.
Miller failed to impress much in Indianapolis, running the 40-yard dash in 4.65 seconds and getting only six reps on the bench press.
Miller shaved his 40 time to 4.57 seconds at Southeastern’s Pro Day but fell to only four reps on bench.
Despite his disappointing performance in Indiana, both the Arizona Cardinals and Carolina Panthers have given Miller workouts in Hammond earlier this month, which he said went well.
“They come and see how well I can learn,” Miller said. “They’ll try to teach me something, and I’ll have to repeat it back to them. When we go to the field for drills, they want to see how well I can move and my ball skills. After that, we go out to eat and talk about life and football and what to expect and how to prepare.”
Since the combine, Miller has stayed in Hammond and continues to use the Lions’ facilities for daily workouts.
Roberts welcomed Miller back to the program with no concerns in part because he’s seen what a player getting drafted can do for a program like Southeastern.
Miller is expected to be the second Southeastern player to be drafted in the Roberts era, following in the footsteps of Atlanta Falcons cornerback Robert Alford, who was a second round pick in 2013.
No other players have been selected in the draft since the program returned to campus in 2003 after a 17-year hiatus.
Roberts said he plans on hosting several recruits this weekend, and if they just happen to be in front of a television when Miller gets drafted, there won’t be any complaints from the Lions coach.
“If I can time it up like that, that would be awesome,” Roberts said. “I think the more times players get picked, then that school becomes hotter and hotter.”