While Ohio State fans cringe when they see quarterback Braxton Miller carted off the field with a knee injury that turned out to be relatively minor, it provided an opportunity for the NFL Draft community in on a secret the Buckeye faithful already knew; Kenny Guiton is pretty good. Largely a victim of circumstance, Guiton went to Ohio State hoping to take over after Terrelle Pryor only to run into the buzz saw of talent in Miller. Miller was so talented that Jim Tressel began recruiting him as a freshman in high school. It took some impressive talents to keep Guiton off the field, who could have started for a significant number of college programs and while his playing time in college will be limited, he could definitely end up a day three draft prospect this year.
Urban Meyer does not worry or feel the need to shrink the play book when he needs to have Guiton run his offense. The Houston native is extremely comfortable and confident behind center and does not wither under the pressure of coming into the game. Last year, he had an important role in the Buckeyes’ undefeated season as he had to come in for Miller, who went out with an injury, came into a ugly game with Purdue and was able to lead the drive that forced the game into overtime and then lead the drive that ultimately won the game.
After Miller left the game against San Diego State, Guiton entered the game and immediately went to work. The fact he was good against an overpowered Aztec team is not what makes Guiton an intriguing prospect. It is his poise and confidence in the offense as well as the fact that while he does not have the game breaking ability that Miller does, he can be an effective dual threat player. And in a league with so many teams looking for dual threat players, Guiton could be make for a draftable, developmental player.
Guiton is listed at 6’3” 208lbs with good athleticism and throws the ball pretty well. The lack of experience is certainly a concern as coming into this season, Guiton had thrown a grand total of 25 passes during his first three years in Columbus. The fact that he has shown the maturity to handle being a backup to the younger Miller will help him and should translate well to the interview process. More importantly, when he has had opportunities to come in and play, he has been effective and the Buckeyes look like the Buckeyes. Last year against Purdue, this year with San Diego State and the reality is he will likely see more action, perhaps over the next two weeks.
Miller’s injury status has been described as being questionable for next week with suggestions that he could have come back into the game if they needed it. The Buckeyes play at Cal next week and after last year’s game where the Golden Bears pushed them to the limit, it is certainly not a game to take lightly, but Ohio State has an extremely talented team and National Championship ambitions. They may opt to be cautious with Miller and sit him for Cal and have Guiton lead the offense this week. The following week, they play Florida A&M. If healthy, Miller will likely play a portion of that game, but they may only give him a half or even less to just keep him in rhythm and get him out of the game while making sure he stays healthy for Wisconsin and Northwestern in Evanston the following two weeks. At that point, Guiton comes back in and gets more reps.
Overall, the Buckeyes hope Guiton will not have to play a ton this season but knowing they can makes a big difference and could significantly impact their chances of going to and potentially winning a National Championship. A couple other things that could help Guiton will be Ohio State’s Pro Day as there will be all kinds of scouts and talent evaluators in Columbus to watch cornerback Bradley Roby and linebacker Ryan Shazier should they declare as well as seniors like running back Carlos Hyde, safeties C.J. Barnett and Christian Bryant as well as Jack Mewhort. They will be there and as long as they are there, they might as well take the opportunity to watch Guiton, talk to the young man, and talk to Meyer about him which could help him. Meyer has not held back praise of Guiton publicly.
The other thing that could happen is if Guiton ends up going to an All-Star game like Texas vs. the Nation. He would be able to get reps with other players, take and handle coaching and just show what he can do, which could get a team or few to buy in to his talent and upside. If he has a great week, the East-West Shrine Game might invite him, but just getting invited and being able to showcase his talent would really help him.
This would hardly be an unprecedented move as the most popular example to cite is when the New England Patriots drafted Matt Cassell in the seventh round after he threw 33 passes in his USC career as he backed up a few quarterbacking luminaries there. He went on to have success with the Patriots when Tom Brady suffered his ACL injury and they promptly cashed in by trading him to the Kansas City Chiefs with Mike Vrabel and a second round pick. This past year, B.J. Daniels was drafted in the seventh round by the San Francisco 49ers which surprised more than a few onlookers. Most assumed Daniels would switch positions and become an athlete type player of some sort, but after having a great camp, he established himself as the third string quarterback and there was some talk that he was pushing to be the backup to Colin Kaepernick. Guiton might not be quite as blessed with the raw arm strength that Daniels has, but he is a far more polished, accurate passer with similar athletic ability.
In the end, Guiton might only be a fringe draft prospect that ends up going in the seventh round, but it would not be surprised if he went a little earlier on the third day because of his breeding under both Tressel and Meyer. The fact he was not able to get on the field much because of Pryor, who has basically willed himself into the starting quarterback job for the Oakland Raiders with his incredible physical gifts and Miller, who is one of the best quarterbacks in all of college football, does not mean he is not talented. He just has not had the ability to show case it. If he went to a MAC school, he might be a big time player now getting a lot of hype with all he can do. Guiton does have athleticism and does have some passing skills that can be developed with the potential to become a good player or potentially a long term backup. Having a backup that allows a team who likes to use read option and not have to pare down their playbook is valuable, so Guiton could find himself a nice niche at the next level. If he is able to get more playing time, there might be a little more buzz with Guiton as a draft prospect. Even if he does not play another down in college football, people should not be shocked if Guiton is drafted next May.