Braxton Miller, WR/QB
The Ohio State University
6’01” 201 lbs.
- Solid build for the position
- Elite quickness and very elusive
- Not a burner, but good deep speed
- Natural “hands catcher”
- Makes difficult catches look routine
- Good timing on jump balls
- Potential to be very dangerous return man
- Team leader
- Inexperienced as a receiver
- Lots of work needed on route running
- Blocking technique
- Can hear footsteps
After an extremely successful career at Quarterback for the Buckeyes, Braxton Miller made the transition to wide receiver in his senior season. That decision proved to be a very good move for Miller, and he’s shown enough potential to be a day 2 pick in the 2016 draft at that position.
While Braxton has been viewed as small most of his career as a QB, as a receiver he actually has solid size. That should help him in his durability at the next level, but he’s going to make his money in the pros with his incredible quickness. Miller is an extremely shifty player that’s hard for defenders to get their hands on. He was best in show at the combine in the shuttle drills, which measure quickness and change of direction ability. While he’s more quick than fast, he still has plenty speed to beat you over the top if you sleep on him. As a pass catcher, Miller showed a surprising knack for plucking the ball out of the air with his hands (not his body). He did a great job in his senior season on adjusting to badly thrown balls to go up and get them, or lay out for them.
Where Miller needs work is using his amazing change of direction skills to run more crisp routes. This is likely just a result of inexperience and I could see him being a very difficult cover with the right coaching, though that won’t happen overnight. There are also some instances of Miller alligator arming a ball if he feels a defender barreling down on him.
While Braxton has even less experience as a return man than he does at receiver, there’s reason to believe he could be one of the best return men in the league right away. He did get some work as a return man at the senior bowl, where NFL analyst Bucky Brooks stated Miller was “the most natural punt returner that I’ve seen in years. He catches the ball effortlessly with his hands and looks like a veteran judging the ball in the air.”
Overall, Miller is a bit of a question mark. He could certainly blow up and be a great receiver, but there’s a small sample size of him playing the position so far.
How he Fits (or doesn’t) with the Steelers
There was some whispers during the senior bowl that the Steelers were one team that came away very impressed with Braxton Miller. At the time, taking Miller on day 2 of the draft felt like too big an investment with all the weapons the Steelers have offensively. In the wake of Martavis Bryant’s suspension though, maybe Miller is in play.
Braxton Miller’s background is unusual, but his skillset is very similar to both Antonio Brown and Markus Wheaton. Both are considered small-ish guys that win in space with quickness and plus hands. Todd Haley has also shown an affection for gadget players in his career, like Dexter McCluster and Dri Archer. Miller could be that guy early on, but I also think his ceiling is much higher than those two guys.
Miller’s ability as a return man would obviously be really attractive for Mike Tomlin. We saw in the playoffs last season that this team is in trouble if Antonio Brown isn’t available to return punts. Speaking of Brown, if Miller is willing to put in the work, he could learn a ton from the best route runner in the league. If Miller is able to absorb even a little bit from Brown in route running, he could be very good.
Draft Range Prediction
Late 2nd-Early 3rd Round