Football

Position switch suits Ohio State prospect Braxton Miller just fine

After two Big Ten offensive player of the year awards as a quarterback, Braxton Miller had 68 catches as a receiver for Ohio State last season.
After two Big Ten offensive player of the year awards as a quarterback, Braxton Miller had 68 catches as a receiver for Ohio State last season. AP

Braxton Miller played quarterback. He now plays receiver. The Ohio State product insists there is no going back.

“I’ve been a receiver since the day I switched, which was before camp [in] July,” Miller said.

Miller earned Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year twice as a quarterback, accounting for 3,310 yards of offense in 2012 and 3,162 in 2013. But he injured his throwing shoulder in the 2013 Orange Bowl, and then reinjured it the following summer.

Miller required surgery to repair the torn right labrum.

After redshirting in 2014, when J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones led the Buckeyes to the national title, Miller returned as a receiver. He’s looked forward ever since, calling his injury a blessing in disguise.

“I love it,” Miller said of his new position. “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. 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 spent time with Hall of Fame receiver Cris Carter, trying to do just that. Miller caught a pass in 12 of the Buckeyes’ 13 games last season, finishing with 68 receptions for 601 yards and four touchdowns.

“Miller is a gifted and exciting open-field athlete with game-changing speed and the twitched-up ability to be elusive, not slowing down in his cuts,” CBS Sportsline draft analyst Dane Brugler said. “He showed signs of being able to translate his ability to read defenses as a passer to reading coverages in his routes but is still unpolished in this area and will need time as he continues his development at wide receiver.

“The No. 1 concern moving forward for Miller is durability. He’s a true competitor, but can he stay healthy? Overall, while still raw, Miller is a special athlete for his size [6-foot-1, 201 pounds] with considerable upside, which could see him overdrafted in the top-50 overall. [He could become a] gadget player as a NFL rookie before competing for a starting role in year two.”

Gene Washington, Hines Ward, Julian Edelman, Freddie Soloman, Brian Mitchell and Antwaan Randle El are among notable quarterbacks-turned-receivers. Miller said he hasn’t conducted research on those who have made the successful conversion, but he expects to join the list.

Overview

For the first time since 2010, the first receiver might slip past 15. Demaryius Thomas was the first receiver selected that year, going to Denver at No. 22. However, this draft offers talent at the position in the top 50 with several late first- and early second-round choices, and it provides solid depth in the mid to late rounds. Laquon Treadwell, Josh Doctson and Corey Coleman are different types of receivers expected to go in the first round.

Cowboys’ needs

Dez Bryant fractured the fifth metatarsal in his right foot in the season opener, requiring surgery that sidelined him five games. Bryant, who played in nine games, needed more off-season surgery. The Cowboys need their top playmaker to return to his 2014 form after the team went without a 1,000-yard receiver for the first time since 2011. In Bryant’s absence, Terrance Williams, who enters the final year of his contract, failed to show he can become anything other than a complementary receiver. Cole Beasley solidified his role as the team’s third receiver, but the Cowboys couldn’t find a reliable fourth receiver.

Top five

Laquon Treadwell, Mississippi, 6-2, 221, 4.63: Treadwell rebounded from his broken left leg in 2014 to catch 82 passes for 1,153 yards and 11 touchdowns last season.

Corey Coleman, Baylor, 5-11, 194, 4.40: The Biletnikoff Award winner made 173 receptions for 3,009 yards and 33 touchdowns in three seasons.

Josh Doctson, TCU, 6-2, 202, 4.50: The Mansfield Legacy product has two of the school’s three 1,000-yard receiving seasons.

Michael Thomas, Ohio State, 6-3, 217, 4.57: He had 110 catches for 1,582 yards and 18 touchdowns the past two seasons combined.

Will Fuller, Notre Dame, 6-0, 186, 4.32: He made 144 catches for 5,212 yards and 30 touchdowns in his career, but scouts are concerned about his number of drops.

Sleeper

Braxton Miller, Ohio State, 6-1, 201, 4.50: He is raw as a receiver after three years as the Buckeyes’ starting quarterback.

Top Texas ties

Rashard Higgins, Colorado State, 6-1, 196, 4.64: The Mesquite product, projected as a second-rounder, made 230 catches for 3,520 yards and 31 touchdowns over three seasons.

Kolby Listenbee, TCU, 6-0, 197, 4.39: The Arlington Bowie product, projected as a third-rounder, underwent sports hernia surgery soon after the combine.

Keyarris Garrett, Tulsa, 6-3, 220, 4.53: The Daingerfield product, projected as a fifth-rounder, made 96 catches for 1,588 yards and eight touchdowns last season.

Jay Lee, Baylor, 6-2, 214, 4.53: The Allen product, projected as a sixth-rounder, made 38 catches for 758 yards and eight touchdowns last season.

Bralon Addison, Oregon, 5-9, 197, 4.66: The Fort Bend Hightower product, projected as a sixth-rounder, made 146 receptions for 1,937 yards and 20 touchdowns in his career.

Jakeem Grant, Texas Tech, 5-6, 165, 4.37: The Mesquite Horn product, projected as a late-round pick, was productive in college despite his size.

Source: Heights, weights and 40 times were compiled from CBS Sportsline draft analyst Dane Brugler.

NFL Draft

April 28-30, Auditorium Theatre, Chicago

Schedule: Round 1, 7 p.m. April 28; Rounds 2-3, 6 p.m. April 29; Rounds 4-7, 11 a.m. April 30.

TV: ESPN and NFL Network.

Draft order:

1 Los Angeles Rams

2 Cleveland Browns

3 San Diego Chargers

4 Dallas Cowboys

5 Jacksonville Jaguars

6 Baltimore Ravens

7 San Francisco 49ers

8 Philadelphia Eagles

9 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

10 New York Giants

11 Chicago Bears

12 New Orleans Saints

13 Miami Dolphins

14 Oakland Raiders

15 Tennessee Titans

16 Detroit Lions

17 Atlanta Falcons

18 Indianapolis Colts

19 Buffalo Bills

20 New York Jets

21 Washington Redskins

22 Houston Texans

23 Minnesota Vikings

24 Cincinnati Bengals

25 Pittsburgh Steelers

26 Seattle Seahawks

27 Green Bay Packers

28 Kansas City Chiefs

29 Arizona Cardinals

30 Carolina Panthers

31 Denver Broncos

Note: New England forfeited 29th overall pick.

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