This time last year, the discussion revolving around Kolton Miller was that he was a smart guy who was raw and needed to add some weight to his 6-9 frame. The 15th overall pick showed up to Oakland at 309, which is a lot for most players, but for a tackle of his stature, it’s a bit light.
Tuesday Miller stepped on the field for the start of Raiders OTA’s a noticeably larger man.
According to him, he is now up to 328 pounds. Seeing him stand behind the podium, you wouldn’t say that was bad weight either. Anyone can gain weight, but it’s important to gain muscle weight and keep your speed and agility. And some home cooking helps too.
“I was back home in Sacramento and I was working out every day and my parents were struggling to try to pile on the food every night,” said Miller. “But, yeah, this offseason’s way different. You know last year you have to worry about the combine and you’re doing all these drills that are not football related. So, yeah, I just worked out each week and had a conditioning day and ate right and the weight just came on.”
Miller had a rough rookie season, giving up 16 sacks. Then the team made signing a tackle their first priority, adding former Patriots left tackle Trent Brown to a record deal. He even took Miller’s number 77 (Miller switched to 74). This led many to assume Miller would be shifting to right tackle. But that wasn’t what Jon Gruden had planned for Miller or Brown.
The likewise 6-8 tackle is among the largest in the NFL weighing in at a hefty 380 pounds. He moves back to right tackle where he lined up with the 49ers for his first three NFL seasons and Gruden stood by his first Raiders draft pick in keeping Miller at left tackle.
“We think Kolton Miller’s gonna be one of the best at left tackle in football,” Gruden said, giving his second year left tackle a vote of confidence. “He’s not only healthy, he’s in great shape. He’s gotten a lot stronger, he’s added some weight, some muscle, and he’s still a real flexible athlete that can run and change directions and being in the second year in the system I expect a lot of good things.”
Miller has noticed the difference being in the second year in Tom Cable’s downhill zone blocking scheme. But more than his familiarity in the scheme, it’s being healthy that he thinks will help him improve upon his rookie campaign.
A promising start was derailed by a knee injury in week four that nagged him throughout the rest of his rookie season. The Raiders had no real options to replace Miller should he go down. The top options would have been former left tackle Donald Penn or guard Kelechi Osemele but both of them got hurt in the same game as Miller. So, Miller had to tough it out and in the process, he earned a lot of respect from his quarterback, despite how many sacks he surrendered along the way.
“He’s worked his tail off. And I knew that about him all season,” Derek Carr said of Miller. “When he was playing early in the season, he was locking some people up. And then when he got hurt, he never missed a practice. Never missed a rep in practice. If coach said he’s got to get out he’d say ‘No, coach, I’m good.’ I knew right then and there that this guy’s gonna do whatever it takes to come back next year and be better. . . And to see him come in how big and strong he is in the weight room and how much it meant to him, it was really cool to see because it confirmed everything I believed about him.”
The funny thing is, even at 328 pounds, there’s still room for Miller to fill out even more. There are still five other offensive linemen on this team who are heavier than him, perhaps six, depending on where fellow 2018 draft pick Brandon Parker is with his weight.
“They’re definitely bigger and stronger,” Derek Carr said of his offensive line. “A guy we haven’t even talked about, Brandon Parker. Man, he came in... I think he was living with Gabe [Jackson] so he was getting that country strength. Gabe eats a lot so I know Brandon was eating good. . . We definitely got bigger upfront.”
Also standing at 6-8, seeing Parker in person Tuesday leaves no doubt of his weight gain from the 305 pounds he showed up with last year. Add 6-6, 343-pound David Sharpe and you’ve got some of the biggest tackles in the league.