So far, Kolton Miller is off to a strong start.
The Raiders’ new left offensive tackle, the team’s No. 1 pick in this year’s draft out of UCLA (and 15th overall selection), had a strong game this past Sunday in Oakland’s loss to the Broncos.
According to Mike Guerrelli of the analytic website Pro Football Focus, Miller allowed just one quarterback pressure in 36 pass-blocking snaps. Through two games Miller hasn’t allowed a quarterback hit or sack and ranks 25th among 73 qualifying NFL tackles in pass-blocking efficiency.
Head coach Jon Gruden and his staff put Miller at left tackle this season, even though returning Pro Bowler Donald Penn has been on the left side since joining the Raiders. Now Penn is at right tackle, where he’s struggled a bit. Against the Broncos, Penn allowed a sack and a blocked extra point that proved crucial in a one-point loss.
Though PFF notes Miller hasn’t been as effective as a run blocker, analysts for the website believe his two-game performance is “encouraging” for an offensive line that it ranks 18th in the NFL so far.
After watching Miller against the Broncos – where he often lined up against rookie edge rusher Bradley Chubb, the No. 5 overall draft choice in 2018, or the veteran Von Miller – Gruden has high hopes Miller will continue to get better.
“We like Miller a lot,” said Gruden. “He is going to be a heck of a player. He’s played against two of the top defenses in football his first two outings. The film speaks for itself.”
So far, he’s protected quarterback Derek Carr against the likes of Chubb and Miller of the Broncos and the Rams’ Ndamukong Suh and Aaron Donald and held his own, noted Eddie Paskal of Raiders.com.
“We think he’s a long-term, big-time player for us at a crticial position,” Gruden said this week. “That’s why we drafted him. His range, not only as a pass protector, but you saw him get out on the quick screens. He’s got tremendous athleticism and he’s just getting started. It’s exciting.”
Miller will get his next opportunity this Sunday, when the 0-2 Raiders take on the 2-0 Dolphins in Florida. Kickoff is set for 10 a.m. (Bay Area time).