Las Vegas Raiders left tackle Kolton Miller is easily in the top ten at his position in the NFL right now. Go on, say it. The sooner you do it, the easier it becomes to accept the truth.
There were concerns about Miller back in 2018
When the Raiders selected Kolton Miller 15th overall in the 2018 NFL Draft to be their “left tackle of the future,” you probably channeled your inner Brock Lesnar and attempted to F-5 your television. Okay, maybe you value your electronics a bit more than I do, but you almost certainly had Robert Gallery flashbacks. Even Bruins fans might’ve had reservations about Miller. He had all the physical tools but lacked consistency, technique, and discipline. At the time, it was fair to wonder if offensive line coach Tom Cable was capable of improving any of that.
Fast forward to now, we all couldn’t have been more wrong about Miller. Since being drafted and thrust somewhat abruptly into the left tackle spot immediately, the UCLA standout has done nothing but improve his play all around to quickly establish himself as one of the better blindside protectors in all of football. Coming into this season it may have been easy to overlook how steady Miller has become in the run game and how dominant he can be in pass protection. Nevertheless, ’74’ has been impossible to ignore in 2020.
An offensive resurgence is helping the Raiders get back in the spotlight
The Raiders hold a 5-3 record after what many assumed would be an impossible first half of the season. This has been possible in part to the resurgence of the high-powered offense they deploy and in spite of a mostly banged-up offensive line. Up until this past Sunday, Miller had been one of the only constants in the offensive line. He missed his first game of not just the season, but his career, due to an ankle injury.
Prior to sitting out the Chargers game, Miller faced a litany of quality pass rushers. He has had to block established names like Myles Garrett, Frank Clark, Cam Jordan, Sheldon Richardson, Jason Pierre Paul. How many sacks has Kolton Miller surrendered against them this season?
One, this is not a typo. He has given up ONE sack. That’s it.
Miller Has Kept Raiders QB Derek Carr Upright in 2020
We don’t blame you if you take this number with a tiny bit of skepticism. Sure, Kolton may have only given up one sack, but how many pressures has he allowed?! He has given up 13 pressures against premier pass rushers. But hey, how about we compare Miller to perennial All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams?
Both Williams and Miller have only appeared in eight games this season as they each missed their team’s week nine contests. The San Francisco 49ers tackle has the edge in pass-blocking snaps, but not by an overwhelming amount (313 to 280). He has allowed four sacks and been flagged for five penalties while Miller has allowed one sack and has been flagged twice.
Pro Football Focus currently ranks Williams as the leagues’ top tackle while Miller is 51st. One spot above Raiders reserve tackle Sam Young. That just doesn’t make sense. Look, Williams has graded out far better in the run game (84.7 to 48.6), I get that. I can’t say that’s totally Kolton’s fault, but I will not argue that disparity.
However, Miller’s run grade should keep improving. Very few 6’9 300+ lbs tackles get out and pull in the ground game like the former Bruins tackle. Then again, you don’t pay your left tackle to crush it in the run game, that’s merely a plus. Your left tackle is there to keep your quarterback clean in the passing game, and few have done it better than Kolton Miller this season.
Give Kolton Miller his flowers now, cause he’ll only deserve more as this season continues.
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*Top Photo: Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal