A TRIO OF TIPS

Though it's not uncommon for a quarterback to shift to receiver in college or the NFL, there's no blueprint for the move either. Braxton Miller is off to a good start, but here are a few pointers from guys who have successfully made the switch
September 21, 2015

HINES WARD

A high school quarterback, he played tailback, QB and receiver at Georgia. A receiver in the NFL, he earned four Pro Bowl nominations and Super Bowl XL MVP honors with the Steelers.

THE MAJOR issue for guys making that transition is getting separation when you get jammed at the line of scrimmage. I worked with Antwaan Randle El when he came to the Steelers in 2002 [Randle El played quarterback at Indiana], and one of his big transitions was getting off against man-to-man coverage. Then it's learning nuances, such as how to run a slant when the corner is playing inside technique. Miller will have to become a patient route runner and not force things—that's the biggest thing he'll have to learn.

A lot of colleges aren't asking receivers to read coverages. They look to the sideline [for a call] and run a route. That's a problem for a lot of rookies in the NFL. It takes two or three years to play relaxed and free.

BRAD SMITH

A four-year starter at quarterback for Missouri (2002 to '05), he switched to receiver in the NFL and played with the Jets, Bills and Eagles. He's currently a free agent.

THE FIRST time I ran a passing route with the Jets was in an off-season rookie practice. It wasn't until year three that I really felt like I knew what I was doing. The first couple of years you are confident and making plays, but you don't know what's going on—you're kind of running around. Now when I get to the line of scrimmage, I have a plan to beat the guy in front of me. There are so many little things to learn. There's your stance and the distance between your feet. There's how to best come off the ball. Where do you put your hands? How do you use your first step? At first, some guys just naturally do things to get open and don't know the nuances. The Pro Bowlers are the guys who learn the small things.

MATT JONES

A second-team All-SEC quarterback at Arkansas in 2004, Jones shifted to wide receiver before the '05 draft, and the Jaguars picked him No. 21. He played in the NFL for four seasons.

I WAS in the best shape of my life when I switched, but I didn't understand the physical pounding your legs take from all the sprinting. I would recommend to Braxton to do yoga. You need to stretch constantly. My first two years I had hamstring and groin problems.

I played basketball in the SEC against guys like David Lee [at Florida], Tayshaun Prince [Kentucky] and Brandon Bass [LSU], but I can tell you the best athletes in the world are defensive backs. They have a world-class athlete in front of them that they have to guard—and the receiver knows where he's going; the defensive back doesn't. For a receiver, working on timing with your quarterback and watching film with him helps you beat those elite athletes.

PHOTOAL TIELEMANS FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (WARD) PHOTODREW HALLOWELL/PHILADELPHIA EAGLES/GETTY IMAGES (SMITH) PHOTOJOHN BIEVER FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (JONES)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
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HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)