Ohio State Football: Why Braxton Miller Can Be a First-Round Draft Pick

Tim Bielik@bielik_timSenior Analyst IMay 1, 2013

COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 24: Quarterback Braxton Miller #5 of the Ohio State Buckeyes controls the ball against the Michigan Wolverines at Ohio Stadium on November 24, 2012 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Ohio State's Braxton Miller was among the best players in college football last season as evidenced by his fifth-place finish in the Heisman Trophy voting. But can it translate into an NFL future?

Miller is certainly not as good a player as he is by his passing skills alone, but there's no doubt those skills improved greatly from his freshman season to his sophomore year.

His running ability is what makes him a special player, where he combines his speed with quick-twitch jukes that make him so difficult to bring down in the open field.

Now with NFL offenses adding read-option plays, particularly the San Francisco 49ers, suddenly a window is opening for dual-threat quarterbacks. That may have been part of the reason why E.J. Manuel was the first quarterback taken in last month's draft.

The 2014 crop of prospective quarterbacks looks very strong, led of course by Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater as well as Johnny Manziel.

While it's reasonable to say that Miller is not just one year away from the NFL, the way the league is trending suggests that he could be a future first-round pick.

He does need another great year under his belt and must improve his passing numbers from a year ago. But the talent is clearly there.

Miller only threw for just over 2,000 yards in the 12 games he started, but improved his completion percentage (54.1 in 2011 to 58.3 in 2012) and threw 15 touchdowns to just six interceptions.

And he proved in certain situations that he didn't have to use his legs to beat opponents, including the eventual game-winning touchdown to Devin Smith that was an NFL-level back-shoulder throw for the long score.

However, we also saw last year that durability is a big issue. He was taken off the field for at least one or two plays several times throughout the season, yet never missed a start.

He does have to learn how to protect himself, but that comes more with experience and film study.

The other big concern of his is pre-snap reads and quickly going to his hot receiver, which Michigan exploited time and again as Miller took some hard hits by not getting the ball out quickly enough.

That, as well, comes with adequate film study and preparation.

Braxton Miller is not ready to make the big leap up to the NFL, but he does have all the physical tools to become a first-round quarterback.

Whether or not he's a "franchise" quarterback all depends on him and the team that picks him.

But there's no denying the package is there when it comes to what the new breed of quarterbacks like Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III and Colin Kaepernick bring from a physical standpoint.

If he can put it all together, there's no telling what he can do in the NFL.


Follow me on Twitter @bielik_tim for the latest college football news and updates.


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