To say that the 12 men picked in the NFL Draft from Ohio State are being held to very high expectations is an understatement. OSU is known league-wide as a talent pool filled to the brim with NFL-ready players. So, the expectations are there as soon as the players arrive at OSU, and they just develop as the players do. As the 12 athletes make the transition to the next level, their success hinges on how the players fit with their respective teams and how they deal with that expectation.
One of the best combinations of former Buckeyes and their new teams is wide receiver Braxton Miller, who was drafted by the Houston Texans in the third round with the 85th overall pick. Making the move from a two-time Big Ten player of the year at quarterback to an unfamiliar position at wide receiver, NFL scouts still question how Miller will transition to the pros. However, one thing scouts don’t question is his athleticism.
Miller was known to be one of the most athletic quarterbacks in the country from 2011 to 2013. He is fourth in OSU’s history with 52 touchdowns thrown and eighth in passing yards with 5,295. After an injury to his shoulder in 2014 which sidelined him for the season, Miller switched positions for his senior year. In his first year as a wide receiver/H-back hybrid, Miller showed his athleticism recording 601 total yards and four touchdowns.
So, how does his athleticism transfer to the NFL? First of all, he has speed. His 4.50 40-yard dash at the NFL combine is nothing special. However, he was a top performer at the combine in the 3-cone drill, at 6.65 seconds; 20-yard shuffle, at 4.07 seconds; and 60-yard shuttle, at 10.84 seconds. He has the breakaway speed to get away from cornerbacks in man coverage.
Secondly, with his size at 6-foot-1, 201 pounds, he has big play potential. Averaging 13.1 yards per catch in his first year at receiver, Miller has the physical ability to be a game changer in the NFL, evident with his 35-inch vertical.
Third, he can hurt defenses in all aspects of the offensive game. Although it is not used much in football, Miller is sort of a utility player for the offense between H-back and receiver. Averaging 5.5 yards a rush at OSU, Miller rushed for 33 touchdowns.
The key thing the Texans were looking for in the NFL Draft was speed and athleticism from the receiver position. If given the time, Miller will be another great speed receiver alongside first-round pick and former Notre Dame receiver Will Fuller.
The Texans franchise receiver DeAndre Hopkins tweeted, “Ain’t no more double teams baby!” after the Texans took Miller in the third round. With the expectation that Hopkins is the main receiver and Fuller is the slot receiver for quarterback Brock Osweiler, Texans’ fans likely look at Miller with less expectations than the other two.
Arguably, Miller has the most upside of any Buckeye selected in the 2016 draft. With untapped potential, Miller could provide the Texans with another big-play, game-changing receiver to complement Hopkins and Fuller.
And as mentioned earlier, Miller did it in multiple ways for the Buckeyes. According to an article by Houston Texans beat writer for the Houston Chronicle, John McClain, Miller said to the media, “Whatever coach needs me to do, I’m going to do. I’m happy to be out here catching balls, running around and being coached by the best.”
Having been drafted later that other receivers, Miller may become the one guy that proves to teams that he should have been drafted earlier.
No one has been more supportive of the Miller pick than former OSU offensive coordinator and current University of Houston coach Tom Herman. According to the Houston Chronicle, Herman has been known to shout his praises of Miller as, “one of the most explosive players he has seen.”
The Texans have a connection to OSU. In 2012, they drafted former Buckeye receiver DeVier Posey in the third round as the 68th overall pick. Also, their linebackers coach is former first-team All American linebacker and Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame member Mike Vrabel, who coached at OSU from 2011-2013.
The person who could tell you most about Miller is Texans coach Bill O’Brien. As coach at Penn State from 2012 to 2013, O’Brien saw Miller combine for 277 yards and three touchdowns in a 35-23 win over Penn State in 2012 and combine for 320 yards and five touchdowns in a 63-14 win over Penn State in 2013.
In Miller’s draft profile on NFL.com, OSU coach Urban Meyer said, “He has a great skill set. He was a back-to-back player of the year in the Big Ten. He’s a very elusive player and has top-end speed. He was a great teammate; elected captain for us.”
If Miller can show his leadership on and off the field for the Texans, he should be a great fit.