Drafted 85th overall in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft, Ohio State product Braxton Miller has been a massive disappointment for the Houston Texans. After two seasons in the pros, Miller caught an abysmal 34 passes for a meager 261 yards and two touchdowns. He played so poorly last season that he received 47.0 grade on Pro Football Focus, which placed him at 94th among all receivers.
His horrific performance so far has led many to believe that Miller might not only lose his starting slot receiver role, but also be released from the team. This could be a savvy move by Texans general manager Brian Gaine, as releasing Miller would get rid of a very inefficient player and save $472,724 against the salary cap.
The reason that Miller will lose his starting role is because he has done little to prove he is worth being a starter, let alone even deserve a roster spot on the team. Another reason why he is moving down the depth chart is because fresh talent – in the form of Keke Coutee, Bruce Ellington, Vyncint Smith, and Jester Weah – will all be competing for a spot on the team.
Keke Coutee is the most dangerous player out of listed above, and that is probably why he was drafted 103rd overall in the 2018 NFL Draft. A speedster out of Texas Tech, Coutee is an explosive wide receiver who will almost surely take Miller’s slot receiver role, and will potentially be a breakout player during the regular season.
Another receiver to watch out for is Bruce Ellington, who also started as the slot receiver for a few games, but had his season derailed by inefficiency and injuries. Despite his extensive injury history and inefficiency last year, the Texans still may prefer Ellington over Miller because he has value on special teams.
Vyncint Smith is another player who could threaten Braxton Miller’s roster spot. During an interview with FPC Texans, Smith said that general manager Brian Gaine talked to him about how, “[he] would play a role on special teams, and where [he] should come in as a receiver on the roster.” He went further and said the Texans, “didn’t pick anybody else in the draft that would hinder my plan or make it close.” This special teams role could give Smith a roster spot on the Texans, and potentially leave Braxton Miller out of one.
The final player who could truly be a threat to Braxton Miller’s roster spot is another rookie, former Pittsburgh standout Jester Weah. Signed as an undrafted free agent, Weah had a 4.43 40 yard dash, 38.0 inch vertical jump, and 129 inch broad jump. Although he doesn’t bring much to special teams, Weah’s athleticism could lead to him taking Miller’s roster spot.
But the general theme should be apparent by now, Brian Gaine has made a concerted effort to draft and sign explosive rookie receivers like Keke Coutee, Vyncint Smith, and Jester Weah. Acquiring all of these players certainly doesn’t bode well for Braxton Miller’s spot on the team, which is why this training camp is the most important one of his entire career.
If Braxton Miller can prove himself in training camp, he will stay on the team. If he cannot, then odds are you will not see him in a Texans uniform on Week 1.