NFL

Braxton Miller Handling Position Switch Well

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As a quarterback, your shoulder is literally everything.

Former Ohio State Buckeyes standout Braxton Miller knows all too well, as he was underwent two shoulder surgeries during his stay in Columbus. Heading into the 2014 campaign, Miller was expected to be a Heisman finalist, but unfortunately he was sidelined for the entire season. 

“[There was] a lot of alone time,” Miller stated. “Two shoulder surgeries aren’t the easiest thing. The hardest part was, I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know if my shoulder was going to come back healthy or if I was going to have to sit out again this year. I stopped a lot of things. You know, stopped going out, partying. I just focused on what I really wanted to accomplish, and my shoulder.”

J.T. Barrett stepped in for Miller and then he would eventually go down to injury, which left the Buckeyes with Cardale Jones, who ended up leading Ohio State to an improbable National Championship.

With such a bizarre quarterback carousel going on heading into the 2015 season, Miller and the Buckeyes staff decide to put him at wide receiver.

“I knew after the last checkup that I wasn’t ready for quarterback,” Miller said. “I couldn’t throw over 40 yards. I was throwing hard, about 70 mph, 20 yards. But I couldn’t throw over 40 yards. There’s no point in playing quarterback if you can’t throw over 40 yards. It was devastating.”

Coming to that harsh reality wasn’t easy by, but it was the correct decision for Miller’s career moving forward because like he said, there’s no point of playing under center if you can’t throw over 40 yards.

Luckily for Miller, he has the size at 6-foot-2, 205 pounds and speed to play on the perimeter.

While he was a fringe NFL prospect as a quarterback, the position switch has helped him in the eyes of NFL scouts as he’s now draftable.

He elevated his stock with a great Senior Bowl week, as he showed an innate ability to run routes and catch passes with his hands.  It’s unlikely that Miller will hear his name called in Round One of April’s NFL Draft, but if you want to talk about bargains, Miller would be a great pickup for someone in the second or third round.

While he’s still new to being a receiver, Miller is a guy you can place anywhere on the field from running back to quarterback at times. He would be an offensive coordinators dream and a defensive coordinators nightmare.

“There’s a lot of things you have to prepare yourself for going to the next level,” Miller stressed. “It’s not about who’s the fastest or the strongest. It’s about perfecting the receiver position. There’s a lot that goes into it. I’ve been doing my homework. It’s not about athleticism. It’s not about speed. It’s not about strength.”

When you look at prospects before Miller that have made the transition from quarterback to wide receiver, you’ll realize that it’s possible to succeed.

However, when Miller was asked if he’s studied guys before him that have made the switch, he had this to say.

“No. I haven’t done research on that,” he explained. “I’m just making sure I’m on top of my game.”

Josh Cribbs, Antwaan Randle El, Matt Jones and Julian Edelman are some of the most notable names to make the position switch of late.

Similarities between Miller and guys like Cribbs and Randle El is that he could be used as a return man, whether it’s kickoffs or punts. On the flip side, Miller is bigger than both guys, including Edelman and with his elite speed to go along with that, Miller could wind up being an elite receiver at the next level one day.

As far as Matt Jones goes, the former Arkansas quarterback was listed at 6-foot-6, 240 pounds, but he never could quite live up to expectations in Jacksonville. In four seasons, Jones only caught 166 passes and hauled in 15 touchdowns.  Jones lacked toughness which hampered his career and ultimately led to his premature retirement.

With the draft nearing, Miller has a very positive mindset.

“Absolutely, for sure. I love it. I’m just thankful to play football again. I’m out here doing what I love to do and putting everything in god’s hands,” he explained. “That’s what I’ve been doing, just perfecting my craft. I want to be one of the best. That’s what I’ve been doing since I switched positions.”

Miller is still a work in progress, but some shrewd team will use him as an “offensive weapon,” and they won’t regret the selection.


About Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels is an NFL columnist for Football Insiders. He has several years of experience covering the NFL and NCAA football. He's the radio color commentator for Lincoln University football. Mark's work has been featured on Sports Illustrated, Fox Sports and Yard Barker.