With the only game left in the 2015 NFL season being Sunday's Super Bowl, mock draft season is upon us. And, with the college football season long complete, the next time we'll see many of this year's top prospects in action will be at the annual scouting combine and their pro days. One player on the rise heading into those is Ohio State Buckeyes star Braxton Miller.
Miller was one of the star's of last week's Senior Bowl festivities, enough so that many are projecting him in the first round of this year's draft.
Miller is who ESPN's todd McShay has Cincinnati taking with the 24th-overall pick in this year's draft in his 2.0 mock draft.
This might be a bit of a reach, but the Bengals could certainly use a versatile offensive weapon like Miller. He was the best pure athlete on the field during Senior Bowl practices, dazzling in agility drills and one-on-ones. His precise route-running ability is not indicative of a player who has been playing the position full time for less than a year. With three WRs set to be free agents, Cincinnati has lots of question marks after A.J. Green at that position.
The former All-Big Ten quarterback moved to wide receiver this past season and showed flashes of becoming a big-time pass-catcher. Miller continued that last week when he was arguably the best player at the Senior Bowl.
"He's a top-40 pick, and that showed this week," an AFC scout said of Miller. "If he was ever under the radar, he isn't anymore."
Bleacher Report draft connoisseur Matt Miller was present for last week's Senior Bowl festivities, and he offered up a good scouting report of what makes Miller an intriguing receiver prospect.
Miller is an explosive player with the quickness to beat press coverage at the line of scrimmage and the straight-line speed to run past coverage as an inside or outside wide receiver. His 6'1", 204-pound frame is chiseled like a sprinter's, and he uses that power well to fight, push and claw his way open as a receiver. Miller's route game needs work, as he's only been at receiver for one season, but he's shown progress here despite seeing limited reps in an Ohio State offense that relied heavily on the run game.
As Matt mentions, Miller has good size for the position at 6'1" and 204 pounds, but inexperience at wide receiver and a lack of stats make him a very risky prospect in the first round. Miller finished 2015 with 26 catches for 314 yards and three touchdowns, to go along with 42 rushes for 260 yards and another score.
He did so after spending his first four college seasons (1 redshirt year included) as an all-conference quarterback and Heisman contender, but switched to receiver this past season to take advantage of his best chance at making an impact in the NFL, not to mentioned the Buckeyes were loaded at quarterback.
Wide receiver could be a big area of need this offseason if Marvin Jones, Mohamed Sanu and Brandon Tate are not re-signed. That explains why this position is being targeted heavily for the Bengals in these early, pre-free agency mocks.
Still, I think it's far too early to even consider Miller as an option for the Bengals here. They tend to avoid receivers in the first two rounds, opting instead to go after guys like Sanu (3rd round), Chris Henry (3rd round), Jordan Shipley (3rd round), Andre Caldwell (4th round), Marvin Jones (5th round), Cobi Hamilton (6th round), James Wright (7th round) and Mario Alford (7th round).
Plus, after spending last year's top two picks on guys who didn't contribute as rookies before getting bounced out of the playoffs by the narrowest of margins, maybe this year they'll be more willing to go after immediate-impact players with their first couple of picks.
Miller has a bright future, but I can't see him making a significant impact as a rookie while continuing to learn a position that's relatively new for him.