The NY Jets haven’t had a versatile offensive talent since Brad Smith. Braxton Miller could change all of that if the draft pick is right.
To be honest, the special teams of the Jets was atrocious in 2015, which resulted in their special teams coordinator getting relieved of his duties. When you don’t have a good special teams unit you lose football games. In 2015, the Jets had a phenomenal defense and one of the greatest offenses in franchise history.
But too many times they allowed a key special teams gaffe to cost them games whether it was a kick or punt return for a touchdown, a missed field goal or a blown kickoff coverage. Heading into 2016 that has to be one of, if not the highest priority on the Jets’ off-season to do list.
With that being said the Jets have shifted their focus to the Senior Bowl where a bevy of talent is awaiting to be discovered. One talent in-particular is that of Braxton Miller, though he needs no discovering. Miller is the most dynamic and versatile talent in the entire draft and just a few days in he has already made an impact on some of the scouts in attendance, specifically that of Bucky Brooks from NFL Network as he shared his thoughts on Miller’s performance so far:
“Ohio State WR/PR Braxton Miller is the most natural punt returner that I’ve seen in years. He catches the ball effortlessly with his hands and looks like a veteran judging the ball in the air. With Miller also displaying improved route-running skills and impressive ball skills, he could make an immediate impact as a multipurpose playmaker.”
Now don’t get me wrong, you can’t blame the Jets for not trying to replace Brad Smith, but simply nothing has worked. Leon Washington attempted the ‘Seminole’ package to no avail, we’ve even seen Bilal Powell run a form of wildcat last season.
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But just seeing some of the words that Bucky used to describe Miller: “natural punt returner, catches effortlessly, impressive ball skills” are all enticing enough to make this a very smart draft pick in the grand scheme of things.
Another guy I didn’t mention was Jeremy Kerley who has attempted to as well, but has ultimately failed as a punt returner. In inner circles, Kerley has been labeled as ‘Captain Faircatch’. Kerley seems destined to be moved in the off-season whether by trade or release after not fitting in Chan Gailey’s new offensive schemes.
Now Miller’s draft grade this early has moved all over the place from a early second-round pick to a mid-round pick to even a late flier. I think ultimately he’ll grade as a 3rd-5th round pick and even at that grade I think he’s worth taking a chance on.
Jan 1, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Braxton Miller (1) against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the 2016 Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Buckeyes defeated the Fighting Irish 44-28. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Miller can instantly step in and be the Jets’ starting kick returner and punt returner. On offense, Gailey is creative enough to find ways to get Miller the ball in space. The screen game, jet sweeps, verticals down the field, even with his track record as a gifted passer, he could also occasionally chuck the pigskin.
I can’t iterate enough the impact of a dangerous return man and how that completely shifts the dynamic of the field position battle. It’s a glaring hole on this team and unless Mike Westhoff returns in the Jets facilities, they need to do something drastic to fix it for 2016.