Braxton Miller: Boom or Bust?
This time two years ago, Ohio State wide receiver Braxton Miller was quarterback Braxton Miller, but now he is one of the biggest wide receivers in the NFL Draft. Miller made the decision not because he could not be a NFL quarterback, but because it would help Ohio State.
He missed the 2014 season after he injured his shoulder. In that 2014 season Urban Meyer used J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones behind center. And his 3rd string QB won the National Championship. So coming in the 2015 season Miller decided to make the transition to wide receiver.
This transition from quarterback to wide receiver is not uncommon in the NFL. Many of the league’s great receivers were college QBs. Players like Julian Edleman, Hines Ward, and Josh Cribbs were all signal callers in college.
But Miller has two things over those players and that is his speed and size. Miller is 6’2”, so he is not a small guy like Edleman or Ward. His size makes him a flexible option between the slot and and outside. And obviously his speed is key to his game. Miller is expected to run a time under 4.5 in the NFL Combine. He has shown his breakaway speed all throughout his career at both the QB and WR positions.
Miller is one of the biggest mysteries of the draft. He could be a bust. Last year was his first and only year at the position, or he could be a boom and do great things in the NFL. That answer will come later in his career, but I think he will do great. His speed, and playmaking ability will definitely carry him until he learns how to run routes and be an actual wide receiver. Even though Miller only had 26 catches, 341 receiving yards, 3 touchdowns, he is still one of the wide receivers you have to take a look at. He may have one of the best highlight of the season at Virginia Tech.
A team that wants to pick up Miller will need to have a veteran receiver around him to show him how to be a receiver. That same team will need to have a creative play caller to use him right. I could see a team like the 49ers. They could wait until about the 3rd round to pick him up. The combination of Chip Kelly and Miller would be fun to watch. Miller could definitely be used to go over the top of the defense and maybe even a little in the punt return game. If Kelly needs it, Miller could go back to the quarterback position.
Another possible landing spot for Braxton is Pittsburgh. Historically, the Steelers have used wide receivers that used to be quarterbacks. Antwaan Randle El and Hines Ward both had great years catching balls for the Pittsburgh Steelers. The two-headed monster Antonio Brown and Miller on the field at the same time would be almost unstoppable. If Big Ben is ever hurt, they can always turn to Miller as a backup quarterback.
Despite Miller’s downside he is definitely a player that could help a team in need of an offensive weapon. He is an early third round draft pick and in the long term will obviously be somewhat of a project, but his upside is too great too miss.
The Senior Bowl practice really helped his draft status. That week might help him squeak in the second round. Many of the coaches there were really impressed by how good his hands and route running was in the practices. And during those practices, he showed his flexibility by working out in the slot and outside the numbers.
My projection of Braxton Miller is a bigger and more durable version of Percy Harvin.