Big Ten's Best QB Prospect: Taylor Martinez Vs. Braxton Miller
By Bill Lund
Taylor Martinez and Braxton Miller will begin the Big Ten season as the two top quarterbacks in the conference. Martinez will be a fourth-year starter, while Miller, the Ohio State junior, will start his third season. Martinez recently stated publicly his desire to become a starting QB in the NFL, and Miller has the skill set to possibly be a better pro than a certain former Urban Meyer signal-caller who was taken in the first round three years ago. But which one of these two Big Ten prospects has the best chance of becoming a starting quarterback in the NFL?
Taylor Martinez, Nebraska
At 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, Martinez does not have the prototypical size NFL teams look for. In 2012, he completed 62 percent of his passes for 2,871 yards, 23 touchdowns and 12 interceptions while also rushing for an additional 1,019 yards, leading the Big Ten in total offense. He could finish his career with 9,000 passing yards and 3,000 rushing yards, joining Nevada's Colin Kaepernick as the only FBS players to accomplish such a feat.
Such a comparison could bode well for Martinez's draft stock. What will determine his draftability will be his development as a passer and decision-maker in the pocket. Martinez has had a penchant for turning over the ball far too often during his career. Scouts will also question his throwing mechanics once he hits the pro day circuit.
Braxton Miller, Ohio State
Miller led the Buckeyes to a 12-0 season in 2012, with a school-record 3,310 yards of total offense. He is listed at 6-2, 215 -- measurables that would seemingly keep the scouts satisfied. He showed flashes last year of improved arm strength and accuracy.
Certainly the biggest question would be how much reading of defenses Miller does in the Buckeyes attack. He completed only 58 percent of his passes last season, which is a bit of a concern. Then again, Ohio State did not have great receiving threats to work with. Miller is a playmaker that makes chicken salad out of chicken you-know-what, and his NFL future will be determined by how much he can develop in the passing game.
And the better prospect is . . .
Miller has the moxie and a better skill set to develop into a better NFL prospect. Martinez has had success at Nebraska, but Miller is a better player now than Martinez is, with a greater ceiling of development. Miller will be the key in the Buckeyes becoming a national title contender, while Huskers fans simply will be hoping Martinez can return the Big Red Machine to past glory.