Before he traded edge-rusher Khalil Mack, Jon Gruden’s most criticized personnel move was trading down from No. 10 overall to No. 15 and to take left tackle Kolton Miller.
Many didn’t like the idea of the Raiders allowing the Arizona Cardinals to pick potential franchise quarterback Josh Rosen and only getting a 3rd-round pick for switching with them, but if Miller becomes the franchise left tackle Gruden hopes he will be, all will be forgotten.
Miller has been tested the past couple weeks having faced No. 5 overall Bradley Chubb in Denver and Robert Quinn in Miami. This week, the tests keep coming as he gets 2017 No. 1 overall pick Myles Garrett.
“They’ve all been good. He is another one of them in a long line throughout the season,” Offensive coordinator Greg Olson said of facing Garrett. “Every team it seems like has one of those premier pass rushers. He’s a younger player right now in this league that’s emerging. Certainly, we will have our hands full, but he’s a very solid pass rusher.”
This test comes in a big game the Oakland Raiders have to win against the Browns. Only three teams in the NFL since the merger have made the playoffs after starting 0-3 so the odds are already against the Raiders going to the playoffs this season.
If they lose to the Cleveland Browns and go 0-4, those odds drop even more as only one team has overcome an 0-4 start to make the playoffs. The league-wide perception of the team would be that of a team going through a lost season if the Raiders lose to the 24-year rebuilding Browns too.
To avoid that, the Raiders have to protect quarterback Derek Carr like their lives depend on it. According to Pro Football Focus, Carr is 11-for-24 for 181 yards with no touchdowns, four interceptions and a QB rating of 32.1 while under pressure.
Garrett is tied for the NFL lead in sacks right now with four so it looks like a daunting task for Miller. But he’s tied for No. 42 in in pressures with seven so he doesn’t get to the QB all that often, especially for a guy tied for the league-lead in sacks. He just makes sure he finishes when he does as pass-rush productivity score of 5.3 ranks him No. 84 among edge-rushers.
Miller on the other hand, has yet to allow Carr to be hit or sacked so far this season while allowing just four pressures. When you look at the players he’s faced just four games into the season, you have to say that’s pretty good for a rookie left tackle.
At 6’4”, 275 pounds with 35 1/4-inch long arms, Garrett presents the best combination of size, speed, power, and length Miller will face this year. The speed isn’t likely to be a problem as he gets into his kick-slide quickly as he kept Von Miller at bay. But Kolton Miller has been know to have trouble with strength and length, two things Garrett has.
All eyes will be on the 1st-round rookie, especially those looking at Gruden’s personnel moves. It just so happens that the Raiders will only do well if Carr isn’t pressured too much too. Miller has himself quite a matchup with plenty riding on him in the biggest game of the season.