Miller Not Lacking Confidence, but NFL Decision Will Wait

By Kyle Rowland on December 19, 2013 at 9:15a
26 Comments
Surveying his options.

Accuracy and consistency throwing the football might be Braxton Miller’s biggest drawback when pondering his NFL future. What isn’t missing is confidence. Miller told a group of reporters on Wednesday that he’s “definitely” ready for the next level. The final decision won’t come until after the Jan. 3 Orange Bowl, and Miller gave no indication which way he might be leaning.

A so-so final month that featured underwhelming passing numbers sent Miller’s draft stock plummeting to the third round at the earliest. He submitted paperwork to the league but was unaware of when he’d receive his draft grade.

“Just like I came from high school, coaches are going to get you prepared get you mentally ready for everything,” Miller said. “It’s just another step in life.”

No outside forces will factor into his decision-making, according to Miller. Last week, after winning the Chicago Tribune Silver Football for the second consecutive season, Miller told the paper that the cumulative effects from taking so many hits was wearing on his body. But he changed his tune this week, saying hits are a non-issue. He also said his family’s financial situation has no bearing on what he will decide.

“Toward the end of the season, your body starts breaking down a little bit. All the hits add up,” Miller said. “That’s why in bowl season, you get a couple weeks of down time, you take a couple of weeks to regroup from all the games during the season. I just need to take care of my body, get massages. I’ll be all right.”

Said head coach Urban Meyer: “I think near the end, we did run Braxton a little bit too much. Early in the season, there were a bunch of games we had one or two quarterback runs. That's kind of where we want to be. We have to throw the ball better, too.”

Whatever Miller ultimately chooses, his decision will shape Ohio State’s 2014 season. A return would signal a continuation of the current revival, while leaving the Buckeyes means the beginning stages of a completely rebuilt offense – new quarterback, new running back, new offensive line. Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett would compete during the spring and fall for the starting quarterback position. 

If draft prospects were based purely on statistics, Miller would be guaranteed to go in the first round. He swept all the major Big Ten awards for a second straight year after tallying 1,860 passing yards and rushing for more than 1,000 yards in 10 games due to an early-season knee injury.

When decision time arrives – the deadline is Jan. 15 – Miller said his family and coaches will be consulted. Meyer said he has not spoken with Miller or linebacker Ryan Shazier yet about the future. Of the pros and cons, Miller listed far more reasons why a return to Ohio State would benefit him. 

“Learning from Coach Meyer. He’s one of the best in the game,” Miller said. “Getting better at my craft. Graduating, too.”

Despite 22 touchdown passes and only five interceptions, something as simple as improving fundamentally as a passer would greatly enhance Miller’s NFL outlook. His completion percentage isn’t at the level front office personnel prefer in a franchise quarterback. Reaching that threshold is within view, though. The 70 percent mark is thought to be a golden number, and Miller completed 72.5 percent of his throws until a dismal stretch in November and December when his completion percentage dipped to 46.3 percent.

Miller at Ohio State
YEAR CMP ATT YDS % YPA TD INT
2011 85 157 1159 54.1 7.38 13 4
2012 148 254 2039 58.3 8.03 15 6
2013 146 231 1860 63.2 8.05 22 5

“I think he did OK,” Meyer said. “We just have to play better. Braxton has got to play better, but the guys around him have to, too. We just have to get better. It’s not Braxton.”

Asked what advice he might give Miller, Meyer responded, “That’s between Braxton and me.” But Meyer has already tipped his cap on this subject. He’s never shied away from praising Miller and calling him an NFL quarterback. Meyer’s also not held back in saying Miller isn’t quite ready to make the jump to the professional ranks.

“He has a skill set to be a pro quarterback, there is no doubt in my mind,” Meyer said. “I don’t believe he’s ready yet, but I certainly get asked that question. Can Braxton Miller play an NFL quarterback? Absolutely, he can. There’s no doubt in my mind because he continues to develop.”

Right now, the development is focused squarely on Clemson, not the decision or a possible workout at the NFL combine.

“I’ll worry about it after the game,” Miller said. “I’m just focusing on getting better myself as an individual, getting the team ready, getting in the film room and making sure I’m taking care of my business.”

26 Comments

Comments

RedStorm45's picture

I don't think he's put together a good November/December in any of this three years.  Seems to peak in October and then regress every year.  Completion percentage-wise at least.

buckeyepastor's picture

Agree.  I expect him to believe in himself and that he's ready.  If he wasn't confident about that, what chance would there be?   Coaches will be willing to work with him on getting better, but I think he has to be further along as a starting point.  To me, completing just north of 60% in college translates to about 50% at best in the NFL.   That's not worth higher than a 4th or 5th round pick, and not much guaranteed money. 
 

"Woody would have wanted it that way" 

CC's picture

Of course his numbers went down, he was playing Michigan, MSU etc vs. the early season games.

RedStorm45's picture

I said all three years, not just 2013.  And please tell me how difficult the defenses of Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan were this year.

brylee's picture

If he is able to get this draft stock to a level that would get him in the guaranteed money, then by all means, he should take a shot. 
I'm not sure there are guaranteed money draft spots, but I would guess rounds 1 and 2 would be where a player could get that negotiated into his contract.

nm_buck's picture

Unfortunately for Braxton it doesn't matter if he thinks he's ready.  We all thought big Hank was a 1st round lock.  Doubtful Brax goes as high as Hank, esp considering the other QBs in this class.  I hope he is getting good advice from the people he trusts.  He needs to play his senior year and boost his stock value.  
Whatever he decides, I wish him the very best.  

rkylet83's picture

I'm of the opinion that he's not ready, but based on his quotes I have to think he's either leaving or seriously close.  I think he might get a reality check once the scouts do their annual analysis and hopefully that will push him to make the right decision.  

zachofaltrades's picture

If Braxton comes back he'll need 2500 yards and only 8 TDs to be The OSU all time leader in both categories.  And if his progression holds, he could be a 67%+ passer next year.  Teddy Bridgewater completed a shade over 70% this year, so that would be a good goal.  Those type of numbers would definitely boost his draft grade.  Come on back Braxton!

Larryp713's picture

I worry about any college football player who says they're definitely ready for the NFL... even if you have the physical skills, every defense is twice as good as Sparty. The speed of the game is so much faster, and even improved Braxton still is slow to release the ball. I wish him the best, but from a pure football development standpoint, the decision is really easy.

Respectfully,

Larryp713

D. Anthony's picture

I really believe a lot depends on what kind of game Braxton has vs Clemson. If he has a great passing performance and feels it may boost his stock, that might be enough to tip the scales for him to leave? 
I know it's not quite like the NCAA b-ball tourney where a couple good showing boost a guys stock tremendously but if he looks great passing in the bowl game his chances of leaving probably go way up.
i want him to have a good game but we do need to showcase our best weapon (out running game) and try to hit some passes. This really should be a showcase game for Carlos Hyde and some of our other RB's.

D. Anthony

zachofaltrades's picture

Braxton would definitely be leaving if he didn't miss 2 games and if he hit the same averages the last 4 games as he did through the first 6 games.  But the fact remains that he did miss 2 games and his production really fell off during those last 4 games, proving a lack of consistency.  What might have been though...he could have had a 3000 yard, 32 TD, 72% passing year if you extrapolate out his 6 best games.  I have 100% confidence that he'll hit those numbers next year if he stays healthy.

GV9's picture

This might not be popular to say but it's not just his passing.  He fumbles at least once per game, often twice or more.  Okay, maybe there's been a game that he hasn't fumbled but they are few and far between.  The NFL scouts have undoubtedly taken notice of that and it will hurt him in the draft, as much or more than his passing issues.  
Coming back and proving that he can hang on to the ball consistently will help him a ton in the 2015 draft.  I'm not saying this to bash Brax.  He is a special athlete but regarding the NFL, how ready HE is isn't the issue.  It's how ready the NFL thinks he is that counts.  I hope he does return and improves his passing, ball security, game management, wins the Heisman, tOSU wins the NC, and he goes first in the 2015 NFL draft.  Now THAT would be a win-win-win-win-win-win situation all around.

ChazBuckeye's picture

He's not ready....bottom line. If he goes early, he will have an epic failure on his hands. As Meyer said he can do it. But the million dollar question is will he be successful at the next level? I'd lean towards no.

Some people think we’re the hunted.I don’t feel that way at all.We’re the hunter.Everybody wants an angry football team.Everybody wants a team on edge and a hungry team.If you’re a hunter,that usually equates to being hungry.

Doc's picture

I'm going to chime in with the rest of the chorus here and agree he needs to come back.  His passing isn't NFL caliber, neither is his decision making.  My fear is he comes back and half asses it in the offseason and doesn't progress enough to make the leap he needs to get first or second round money.  Ultimately hurting himself and the team.  He'll be a fifth or sixth rounder when the draft roles around in April.
If I was a betting man I would bet he is gone.  His quote sounds like a guy that feels he has nothing more to learn and is ready for the big time.  I think he is making a huge mistake, but who am I to say. 

"Say my name."

Seattle Linga's picture

Doc - good points - I also think he needs to be on the same page as TH so he won't run as much and get frustrated

chirobuck's picture

Hes not ready to go to the NFL but I am ready for him to.....I want to see the next man up get his feet wet this year for a championship run in 2015, jmo but I don't think braxton can take us there next year esp without Hyde to bail him out when game get tough 

 
^ best post ever ^

Doc's picture

I get you on this.  We are rebuilding the offensive line and breaking in a new running back next year, why not a QB?

"Say my name."

Oyster's picture

Which I am sure he is considering in his decision about leaving.   

Doc's picture

If Withers is back coaching the O line next season I'm not to worried about a big drop off.

"Say my name."

Doc's picture

Thanks Zach.  I had a brain fart there.

"Say my name."

NJ_BUCKEYE's picture

I disagree about Hyde bailing Braxton out.  I think Hyde averages an extra yard at least per carry as a result of the threat Braxton is to the outside.  W/o Braxton Hyde would have been facing tougher interior defenses.  More players would be pinching down into the box, and he would still be a beast, but closer to 5.5 ypc IMO.

buckeyestu's picture

The Big 10 defenses are not NFL defenses. Braxton needs to come back, he needs to develop if he has any desire to be a first or second round draft choice. His passing still leaves a lot to be desired. He is not going to make a living trying to outrun the NFL defenses as a quarterback.
 

Seattle Linga's picture

This season his passing improved and I would tend to agree with you - he needs to come back - it will help him have a much better NFL career. 

RedsBuckeyeBoy's picture

You know who hits harder than NCAA defenders? NFL defenders.
I think Braxton is a great college QB and I have loved watching him play the past few years, but NFL scouts have to be concerned about his durability.