Raiders

Raiders T Kolton Miller Is Pro Bowl Ready In 2021

Las Vegas Raiders offensive tackle Kolton Miller has come a long way in his career. Entering his fourth year in 2021, he’ll be looking to finally earn a Pro Bowl nod.

Let’s start with the obvious: the fact that this article is even written legitimately is a miracle. After the 2018 season, Raider Nation flat-out did not like Miller. The UCLA product allowed 12 sacks as a rookie, paired with an abysmal 49.6 Pro Football Focus grade. Throw in the fact that Jon Gruden was apparently deciding between him or Derwin James with that pick (James was a Pro Bowler that year), and Miller was given up on almost immediately.

Two seasons later, and Miller is one of the top left tackles in the NFL. That is not a typo, but instead a cold-hard fact. Entering his fourth season, and with a new contract that will keep him in the desert until 2025, here are a few reasons why Miller will become a Pro Bowler in 2021.

The return of Richie Incognito to the Raiders

There has been a pattern to Miller’s game since arriving in the league. If he has a solid guard to the right of him, he excels. In his first year, it was Kelechi Osemele. Since 2019, it’s been Richie Incognito. The issue is that both those players suffered injuries during those respective seasons. When that’s happened, a clear drop in Miller’s game was noticed. That’s not to say Miller is completely dependent on having support inside, because he’s gotten better and better each year in 1-on-1 situations. But he can improve more if he has quality help. Enter Incognito, who missed all but two games in 2020 with a foot injury. Even though he’ll be 38 come September, Richie’s still a menace on the offensive line, an enforcer who is not to be reckoned with. With him back in his left guard spot, Miller will reap the benefits.

Complete Confidence

Confidence is key. That’s a life motto, not just a football one. In 2018, it was clear Miller lacked confidence or the strength/experience to hold his own. Today, however, Miller should be brimming with swagger. Not only has he frequently received glowing remarks from his teammates and coaching staff, but the Raiders organization showed their faith in him with a hefty (and early) pay raise.

Miller knows his worth. He also knows he is the unquestioned leader of the Raiders re-tooled offensive line. And that’s not a surprise: a $54 million contract will do that for you.

Name Recognition

In truth, this is the only thing that matters when it comes to making a Pro Bowl. An outstanding statistical season or steady play won’t matter if the fans (who vote players to the Pro Bowl) don’t know who you are. Thankfully for Miller, there’s no question that people know who he is. For example, PFF, who most casuals listen to, gave Miller a solid grade of 72.9 in 2020; they also ranked him within their “Top 10” left tackle list.

As for other mainstream sports websites, Miller was called “…one of the best left tackles in the league…” by NFL.com, and an “unmovable” piece by ESPN. With his name in circulation among the masses, all Miller has to do is continue to play at a high level. If he does, the fan votes should follow in chunks.

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*Top Photo: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

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