Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller has been a star in the making for years now, going back to his prep days in Huber Heights, Ohio. Last year, in Miller’s first under renowned offensive wizard Urban Meyer, Miller took another major leap in terms of progression. The incredibly athletic Miller threw for 2,039 yards with a respectable 15-6 touchdown to interception ratio, while also adding nearly 1,300 yards rushing (along with 13 touchdowns). Even more importantly than his stats is the fact that he led his team to a perfect 12-0 record as a true sophomore while playing for a new coach in a new scheme. Going into his junior year, he’s my preseason pick to win the Heisman Trophy. But, like all of coach Meyer’s quarterbacks, he’s not quite perfect.
- Was a big-time recruit who has always lived up to the hype and the pressure.
- Received rave workout and leadership reviews from coaches and teammates alike.
- Never a menace to society. Doesn’t create any distractions off the field.
- Outstanding size/speed/strength combo at 6-foot 2, 215-pounds and running a 4.45 40-yard dash.
- Elite playmaker with the ball in his hands, similarly to former rival Denard Robinson.
- Outstanding open field runner, showing excellent burst and vision. Makes impressive cuts for any player, much less a quarterback.
- Does an excellent job of allowing blocks to set up and finding running lanes.
- A bruising runner who can get the tough yards. Isn’t afraid of contact and is a bull near the end zone.
- Does a good job of keeping his feet moving in the pocket.
- Has very good arm strength when he uses good mechanics. Can really spin the ball when he sets up feet and doesn’t drop his elbow.
- Major strides need to be taken in terms of developing as a passer.
- A lot of work needs to be done to improve accuracy, evidenced by his paltry 56 percent completion percentage through two seasons (Remember how inaccurate Terrelle Pryor was? He was at 58 percent through two years, and that’s including nearly 50 more attempts).
- Doesn’t have much experience making pre-snap audibles after reading a defense. Makes good reads on his option plays, but not on passing plays.
- Hasn’t taken many snaps under center.
- Tends to stare down his primary targets.
- Lots of mileage, 386 carries in first two years alone. When will injuries play a factor? Has faced injury issues (concussion, knee, ribs) before.
- Can get lazy on mechanics and drop his elbow, releasing with a 3/4 delivery, which drastically affects his arm strength.
- Too often bails out of pocket too early, not giving his receivers time to run their full routes. Can get antsy in the pocket.
No one can or will dispute what kind of athlete Miller is. He’s a total package in terms of physical gifts. He’s got a heck of an arm and is faster than most running backs. He’s a winner and always has been, but he’s got a long way to go in terms of developing as a passer. These days in the NFL, coaches are looking for at least a 63 percent completion rate, and Miller is at 56 percent. And that 56 percent is going against the likes of UAB, Indiana and Illinois who aren’t quite the San Francisco 49ers. To boot, he’s never thrown for more than 250 yards in a game in more than 24 attempts.
Even considering his accuracy issues, he should have an even bigger 2013 season. With another offseason in the same offense and even more weapons thanks to Meyer’s robust recruiting efforts, he should explode behind a very potent Ohio State team this fall. Considering the soft schedule the Buckeyes are blessed with, I’d be surprised if OSU didn’t go undefeated during the regular season and Miller becomes the 7th Heisman winner in Columbus. He’s got his work cut out for him if he wants to last a long time under center in the NFL, but he’s got the kind of athleticism and spirit that makes you believe he can.
2014 NFL Draft Prediction: Late 1st round