NFL: Here’s Why Peyton Manning Calls Von Miller the Best Athlete He Played With

As a former MVP, Super Bowl champion, and multiple record-holder, Peyton Manning is one of the greatest football players of all time. As one of the more brilliant offensive minds to ever take the field, he’s also a superior judge of talent. Manning recently stated that of all the great players he suited up with, Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller was the best athlete. What exactly was Manning’s reasoning behind this, and just how good of an athlete is Von Miller? 

The top athletes Peyton Manning has played with

Over his storied career, Manning played with numerous All-Pros, Pro-Bowlers, and even Hall of Famers. Here are just a few of the greats he played with: 

  • Marvin Harrison
  • Reggie Wayne
  • Edgerrin James
  • Demaryius Thomas
  • Dwight Freeney

While he never played on the same team as him, Manning is also the brother of New York Giants two-time Super Bowl-winning QB Eli Manning. He’s seen him play a lot as well. Based on that list of highly accomplished players, Manning naming Miller as the top athlete he’s ever played with is clearly a high honor. 

Career accomplishments

Von Miller the most athletic player Peyton Manning ever played with.
Von Miller has Peyton Manning’s respect.| Al Pereira/Getty Images

Von Miller is one of the league’s most recognizable players over his eight-year career. That is due to the linebacker’s insanely high levels of production. He was a key component of the Broncos’ 2015 Super Bowl victory, causing all kinds of trouble for the Carolina Panthers’ offensive line. 

Some of his accomplishments include: 

  • 98 sacks
  • 450 combined tackles
  • 125 tackles for loss
  • 26 fumbles forced
  • 2011 Defensive Rookie of the Year
  • 2015 Super Bowl MVP
  • Seven Pro Bowl selections
  • Three-time first-team All-Pro
  • Four-time AFC Defensive Player of the Week 
  • Three-time AFC Defensive Player of the Month

That’s a stellar resume. Miller is definitely one of the preeminent defensive playmakers of this era. It shouldn’t come as any surprise he’s one of the best teammates Peyton Manning had in his career.

Miller’s performance at the NFL Combine

Miller’s results from the NFL combine the year he was drafted provide some insight into his athleticism. According to Mockdraftable, his combine numbers were: 

  • 4.42 seconds in the 40-yard dash, putting him in the 98th percentile
  • 37-inch vertical jump, putting him in the 78th percentile
  • 126-inch broad jump, putting him in the 90th percentile
  • 6.7 seconds in the three-cone drill, putting him in the 94th percentile
  • 4.06 seconds in the 20-yard shuttle, putting him in the 93rd percentile 

Miller’s combine numbers compared favorably to NFL defensive stars such as Bruce Irvin, DeMarcus Ware, and Clay Matthews. It was apparent from his earliest exposure to the NFL that Miller was an upper-echelon athlete. 

His performance led the Broncos to take him in the first round with the second overall pick of the 2011 NFL draft. Calling it a pick they have not regretted is an understatement. 

Why Peyton Manning calls Von Miller the best athlete he ever played with

The career stats and combine numbers make it clear that Von Miller is one of the few teammates to approach Peyton Manning’s level of production. In an interview with the Denver Broncos website, Manning spelled it out and identified Miller as the best athlete he’s ever played with. Here’s the quote on why Manning sees it that way: 

“Just some of the things he can do physically is special. So when you come to a Broncos game and they’re on defense, you find yourself kind of locked in, seeing this might be the game-changing sack-fumble play, or interception, some kind of game-changing play he can make. I like the way he handles his business and like the way he competes out there.”

That is high praise coming from one of the greatest QBs of all time. There’s no doubt that Manning knows what he’s talking about. Based on Von Miller’s athleticism and performance on the field, his place as one of the greatest athletes in the NFL right now is secure.