One bit of news that hasn’t garnered much attention this year is the progress Las Vegas Raiders tackle Kolton Miller has made. In his third year in the NFL, Miller has become a fixture of the team’s offensive line after struggling early in his career.
The early returns weren’t favorable
Plenty of fans criticized the Raiders’ selection of Miller with their 2018 first-round pick. The draft is a crapshoot, nobody is denying that. However, there were plenty of talented players still on the board when they selected the tackle out of UCLA. Among those college prospects were safety Derwin James and linebacker Leighton Vander Esch.
Making the Miller pick look bad at the time was that James and Vander Esch thrived in 2018 while the tackle struggled for the Raiders. All in all, Miller allowed 16 sacks, seven hits, and 42 hurries. Those were not the numbers the Silver and Black probably envisioned when they selected him with 2018’s 15th overall pick.
However, the Raiders stuck with Miller in 2019 and the tackle displayed signs of progress. In his sophomore season, the former Bruin allowed seven sacks, three hits, and 27 hurries. That production hardly screams franchise left tackle but it was definitely an encouraging step in his development.
It wasn’t such a bad pick by the Raiders in retrospect
Heading into his third year, we didn’t know whether Miller would continue growing as a player or whether his 2019 performance was his ceiling. Even though it’s too early to come up with a full assessment, it seems like Miller is indeed trending in the right direction. In the first two games of the season, he has allowed just two pressures and hasn’t been flagged even once.
In his latest press conference, Miller said that he approached this past offseason like any other. He made his fundamentals a point of emphasis and is aware of what he needs to work on.
“The same as every offseason, just strong across the board, keep my feet straight, good feet, worked on depth with hips to stand low because I’m a tall guy. Gotta practice staying low on both run and pass, but those things I just worked on and built off of.”
Maybe Miller didn’t do anything out of the ordinary because his approach is working and giving him tangible results. It will be interesting how the Raiders’ third-year tackle performs down the road as he still has work to do. In the meantime, the team’s brass should be pleased with the returns of its 2018 investment.
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Top Photo: Las Vegas Raiders official YouTube channel