Raiders tackle Kolton Miller was Jon Gruden’s first draft pick upon his return to coaching the Raiders, and he was drafted to be the franchise left tackle of the future. In camp last year, he became the left tackle of the present, as he was given the starting job immediately and never relinquished it. But Miller had a difficult rookie campaign to say the least, playing through a pretty severe leg injury, and he allowed a boatload of sacks.
This year, Miller comes into camp healthy and ready to prove that the Raiders didn’t make a mistake drafting him last year. He is stronger and more confident and ready to learn from the other talented linemen on the team.
“I just feel more sturdy, I guess, less easy to push around. I feel like it’s a lot easier to push people off the ball,” said Miller when asked about his offseason strength gains.
“I’ve grown as a player. I think I’ve gotten a lot stronger. Experienced. Again, I think the number one thing is just being able to play and learn from your mistakes.”
Raiders guard Richie Incognito has expressed wanting to instill a nasty streak into Miller, and the big tackle had thoughts on that as well. “I think that’s just speaking from a guy that’s played 15 years in the league. That those are some of the best qualities that are in a lineman and I’m glad to be working with him, and I hope to learn from him every day.”
The big prize of the Raiders’ free agency period was tackle Trent Brown, who will be at right tackle opposite Miller. He is bullish about Miller’s potential. “I think Kolton has it all. He just has to get it in his mind that he has it and just have the confidence in himself to go out and do it,” said Brown.
Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson was also asked about Miller, whether there’s a difference between the man off the field and the player in the trenches. “I think he’s pretty real. There’s a certain amount of nastiness and violence just to play the game of football, it’s not for everybody and we say that. He comes off as a polite guy and that shouldn’t be held against the guy. His parents raised a terrific young man but I think at every position it’s a physical game. Certainly offensive lineman, when you’re hitting the person across from you every play, you have to have a mindset and a toughness when you strap on the helmet. He’s a tough football player and guys show it different ways. You can’t assume that because he’s a quiet guy he’s not a tough football player,” said Olson. “His experience breeds confidence and we’re happy how he played as a rookie. We know the experience factor is huge for that whole rookie class. He’s played 16 games now as a professional football player and every year the standards change based on that experience. We’re excited where he’s at and we’re excited where he’s going.”
The Raiders did a lot to upgrade their offense this offseason. They brought in several offensive weapons and they look explosive on paper. But there is no person more important to the success of their offensive scheme than Kolton Miller as the linchpin left tackle, Him being a stronger and more confident player will go a long way toward establishing the Raiders as a threat in the AFC.