I admit I didn’t trust head coach Jon Gruden with personnel coming into this draft but he didn’t do bad at all in collaboration with general manager Reggie McKenzie. And yes, he started out well on Day 1, taking offensive tackle Kolton Miller at No. 15 overall.
Miller is versatile so he can start out at right tackle or take the left tackle spot right away. This is important because at 35, Donald Penn isn’t guaranteed to make it all the way back from lisfranc surgery. Former Raiders speedster Jacoby Ford was never the same after his lisfranc surgery at 24 and just 190-pounds, 140 pounds lighter than Penn.
The key to a prospect’s success in the NFL is a combination of his physical gifts, technique, work ethic, system fit, and coaching. Miller checks all those boxes. He has everything a prospect needs to succeed with the Raiders. And as far as his value goes, he was picked right where he was supposed to be according to the people that count.
The physical gifts Miller has are easy to see as they put him in an exclusive category. At 6’9”, 310 pounds, Miller bench pressed 225 24 times, ran a 4.95 40 and a 7.33 3-cone drill along with leaping 31 inches vertically leap and 121 inches horizontally.
Only seven tackles from 6’6”-6’9”, 300-325 pounds, running a 40 under 5-flat with a 3-cone drill under eight seconds, a vertical leap of 26 inches or over, a broad jump of 100 inches or more and benched 225 at least 24 times were drafted in the first round since 2008. And all seven of those men have been named to at least one Pro Bowl or went as an alternate.
Joe Thomas, Joe Staley, Lane Johnson, Matt Kalil as a rookie before his injury, Taylor Lewan, Nate Solder and Jack Conklin are on that list of freak athletes that Miller wants to be on. One’s math doesn’t have to be good to know that’s 100 percent. Meanwhile, only 11 of the 43 (26%) of tackles drafted in the first round since 2008 have been named to a Pro Bowl.
Technique and work ethic
Miller’s technique and work ethic go together, which is why he is an ascending player. He has a few scratches on tape where he wasn’t technically sound, too high among other things. But he worked hard on it and ended the season much stronger than he began it. His overall body of work for 2017 was great too as he was flagged for just two penalties, while giving up just two sacks and 16 total pressures in 579 pass-blocking sets.
Having offensive line coach Tom Cable will do nothing but help Miller along. Many knock Cable for the offensive line woes of the Seattle Seahawks but you need good clay to mold. He’s had success with Raiders 2010 3rd-round pick Jared Veldheer, moving 2007 1st-round pick Robert Gallery to guard and Seahawks 2010 1st-round pick Russell Okung.
He had no such luck with 2016 1st-round pick Germain Ifedi in two years with him. That may be a good part of why he isn’t the O-line coach of the Seahawks anymore. But I’m willing to bet on Cable with an athlete like Miller, whom he had a great deal to do with picking.
Compared to Mike McGlinchey
It may have been a blessing in disguise for the Raiders that Mike McGlinchey was gone when they picked. He has an efficiency rating of 97.8 to 96.9 for McGlinchey according to Pro Football Focus. And it shows why on tape as Miller’s athleticism gets him out of his stance quicker and gives him a quicker kick-slide than McGlinchey has.
McGlinchey has Miller in run-blocking department 94.9-91.6 but that doesn’t mean Miller is a bad run-blocker. He’s good at getting movement off the line of scrimmage, sealing the edge, reach-blocking and using that athleticism to cut linebackers off on the backside.
McGlinchey went ahead of Miller because he is more of a known commodity than Miller is.
NFL Network’s Charlie Casserly had him No. 100 on his board while others had him at the end of the first round or early second. But that’s not where the front offices had him as the Baltimore Ravens were likely looking to get him at No. 16 overall if he had been there. They traded out of there just like the Raiders traded out of No. 10 when Mike McGlinchey was taken right in front of them.
So all the reports of the Raiders reaching for need were according to their boards, not the real boards of NFL teams.
Miller is taking his freak athleticism to Oakland, where it will be welcomed by Cable. And Cable will give him a chance to be all he can be with the coaching he will give him. I see why McGlinchey is rated a little higher but Miller could be better as a pro.
He is extremely gifted and has the work ethic to continue to improve the way he did in 2017. This ascending player’s value may go up more when you see all the redrafts come out too. This was a good first pick by Gruden and McKenzie that will help the Raiders.