No matter how many times the Raiders front office claims to draft the best player available, they tend to opt for players that fill direct needs. Thursday night it was the usual as Jon Gruden passed on multiple elite defensive players to select UCLA offensive tackle Kolton Miller who helps address their biggest need entering the 2018 NFL Draft. And it sounds like the Raiders might not be finished addressing the position.
The Silver & Black could double-dip and take an offensive tackle in either the second or third round according to NFL Network’s Mike Silver. Gruden ‘really wants to upgrade the position’ as the Raiders success is dependent on Derek Carr’s health as the past two seasons have shown.
Left tackle Donald Penn was a fantastic pickup in free agency four years ago, but he is now 35, has struggled staying healthy of late, and is due to make $8.4 million.
Adding another offensive tackle in the draft would potentially allow the Raiders to cut Penn and save the cap space (about $5.4 million in savings with $3 million in dead money according to OverTheCap.com).
Jon Gruden said in the Kolton Miller introductory press conference that Miller’s addition has nothing to do with Penn, while noting Penn’s injury and his plans for Miller as a left tackle.
The other option for the Raiders would be to keep Penn for one last season while he grooms the rookie tackles and helps prepare them to start in 2019.
Top tackles still available in the draft after the first round include the likes of Oklahoma’s Orlando Brown, Oregon’s Tyrell Crosby, Texas’s Connor Williams, and North Carolina A&T’s Brandon Parker. Keep an eye on them as potential targets for the Raiders on day two of the draft.