With the Raiders 2018 OTA’s and Minicamp in the books, Head Coach Jon Gruden was asked which player stood out the most. His answer, “Kolton Miller, been impressed with Miller.” Oakland’s first round pick from the 2018 NFL Draft has shined in camp for his athleticism and work ethic.
Miller joins a Raiders offensive line that has a reputation for being one of the nastiest units in the NFL. So far, he has displayed the grit to fit in.
“He has a quiet toughness to him that I think has really shown up a lot,” said offensive line coach Tom Cable after the Raiders final practice of Minicamp. “His consistency already as a young player in spring football has been amazing.”
While his time in Oakland has been short, Miller has already earned the respect of Pro Bowlers Rodney Hudson and Kelechi Osemele, who are two of the best offensive lineman in the NFL.
“Kolton [Miller] as well is very intelligent,” Osemele said after the first day of Minicamp. “Very minimal ME’s [mental errors]. Also, tough. I’ve been kind of trying to toughen them (Miller and Brandon Parker) up a little bit in drills. He’s pretty solid. I think we have something here. We have some guys.”
Those same traits that Osemele has been impressed with have also stood out to Hudson, who emphasized the rookie’s work ethic as the reason mental errors have been minimized.
“He pays attention,” exclaimed Hudson. “He’s always focused in meetings. He never is a guy that drifts off when meetings go long. I always look back and see, and he always has his pen and paper out trying to learn. Really smart kid. Very athletic. He has good feet. He’s working really hard and asking questions like ‘hey did I do that right?’ and whatnot.”
Hudson and Osemele’s emphasis on Miller’s focus is significant, as the first round pick was viewed as a project coming out of college. While he led the PAC-12 conference in pass-blocking efficiency last season according to Pro Football Focus, Miller was known for his raw athletic ability more so than his technique.
“He’s one of the most athletic tackles that I’ve ever seen. I mean ever seen,” said Gruden after the draft. “At the combine, his broad jump, I think, was almost 11 feet. That’s outstanding. Ran a sub five flat (40-yard dash).”
For Miller to show in OTA’s and Minicamp that he has the smarts and drive to learn the nuances of the position, the potential for him to combine technique with his elite athleticism has the Raiders excited.
“He’s kind of put an exclamation point on our choosing of him,” Cable said. “What I saw in him was a lot of really good characteristics of a left tackle. He’s very athletic. He’s very smart. For a tall kid, he can really bend. I think that’s really important.”
If the rookie continues on this trajectory, he could very well end up protecting Derek Carr’s blindside for the next decade, as the Raiders envisioned when they made him their first round pick.