Kolton Miller: Rookie Review And Reason For Optimism in Year Two

As the 2018 NFL Draft drew closer, it became clear the Raiders were going to address the position of offensive tackle with their first-round pick. Jon Gruden, back for his second go-around as head coach of the Silver & Black, inherited a revolving door at right tackle and a three-time pro bowler at left tackle, Donald Penn, who was about to be 35 and still recovering from Linsfranc surgery that took place the previous December.

Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey, who was reportedly Oakland’s preference with their 10th overall selection, was snatched up by the San Francisco 49ers with the 9th pick. Coincidentally, the pride of Santa Clara only held that one spot advantage from winning a Rod Woodson coin toss back at the combine.


Nonetheless, there was one more offensive tackle that the Raiders considered to be first-round caliber: Kolton Miller. After a trade back with the Arizona Cardinals, Oakland took the former UCLA Bruin with the 15th overall pick.

Kolton started all 16 games as a rookie, tasked with protecting the blind side of franchise quarterback Derek Carr. It didn’t go smoothly. Per Pro Football Focus, Miller allowed a league-high 16 sacks and ranked dead last in their offensive tackle rankings.

When you look at all of that, it can be discouraging. But I’m going to make a few excuses for the guy. Hear me out.


Believe it or not, Kolton had a nice start to his rookie campaign. It wasn’t a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but he was getting the job done and keeping Carr clean.

Then, in just his fourth game as a pro, Miller suffered a grade 2 MCL sprain in his knee. This is significant, not just from a health standpoint, but also in the way that it marked a decline in his play. He never made that an excuse, but I certainly will. I believe it’s as relevant of a point as any when you judge his first year. I also commend Kolton for showing grit and toughness as he played through the pain week in and week out.

Even though most OT’s taken in round 1 are described as polished with a high floor, you could argue that Kolton was more in the project category, so to speak, needing a lot of technique and fundamental refinement before realistically being able to live up to his draft status. In college, he relied heavily on his athleticism, but that only goes so far at the next level. Then, when you add an injury to that, it put him at a disadvantage that was difficult to overcome.

Tale of the Tape

When I re-watched Miller’s rookie snaps, there were a couple errors that seemed to bite him the most. First off, he’d often put himself in a huge bind with a false step. As Robert Ortiz (@CoachOrtizOL) states, “He does this initial drive-catch out of his stance, which is essentially a false step, leaving him screwed from the start and any pass rusher worth his salt will capitalize on that more often that not. It was his fatal flaw at UCLA.” Secondly, the exposing of his chest and the non-aggressive grab to follow, allowing his opponent to deliver a blow and control the outcome. As Coach Ortiz said, “when you consistently expose your chest, while being both late and wide with your strike, you’re going to give up leverage and likely get put on your ***.”

All in all, I believe Kolton showed some good things on film when he was healthy in the beginning of the season, while also flashing his potential later on in the year when he seemed to have more of a grasp on how to work around his knee issue. Sure, there was a lot of bad in between that, but I believe he is poised to have a solid year-two jump. He seems to have added some strength that he lacked a year ago, while also having an entire offseason to solely focus on football without worrying about broad jumps and 40-yard dash times.


Another factor in all of this, which is directly correlated with Miller, is current Raiders offensive line coach Tom Cable.

Obviously, this tweet doesn’t inspire any confidence and would indicate that leaving the development of Miller in Cable’s hands likely doesn’t bode well.

While Cable currently seems to be held in high regard by Gruden, don’t think that a failure in 2019 couldn’t change that. I mean, if Cable can’t make strides with a healthy Miller in his second year, or can’t get reasonable production out of a star-studded foursome of Trent Brown, Gabe Jackson, Rodney Hudson and bad boy Richie Incognito, then something has to give.

However, if he can get Kolton to rise to the occasion, while maximizing the capabilities of the group as a whole, that could be the first step towards changing the narrative when it comes to the Cable Guy’s reputation as an offensive line coach in the NFL.

Either way, let’s hope Miller can stay healthy and figure it out.


(Featured Photo: James Chance/Getty Images)


5 thoughts on “Kolton Miller: Rookie Review And Reason For Optimism in Year Two

  1. Tom Cable is useless. He needs to go, and go quickly. He’s a bully and a fraud.

  2. Well, first off I don’t have any idea why the Raiders hired Cable. He didn’t do well his first time around and was trouble, we could do better. Kolton will do better this year with Brown on the other side. I’m looking forward to a MUCH better passing game. NO more of this throwing the ball 4 yards to a back when you need 6 for a 1st down. Carr is going to have to get back to his 2016 form. We know he has it in him, he just seams to be gun shy after he broke his leg. He needs to put that behind him and go for IT! He has the receivers now so NO excuses.
    GO RAIDERS GO !!!!

  3. I really want to like this site. Nothing in July so far , and there has been news. I saw an article by Chris Reed , whom I think is a good writer, knowledgeable guy. Nothing by him since. I commented on your Gareon Conley article , but it wasn’t posted (!). Is this site even active?

    1. Dave, thank you for your feedback and the kind words about Chris Reed. Your comment on the Conley article was approved and is posted on the article’s page. With training camp approaching, our content should pick up here soon.

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