After the first day of OTAs, Jon Gruden actually beamed about his team. For a coach known for coveting veteran players, Gruden complemented the rookies and spoke openly about how he views them. While no one expects high praise about rookies, Gruden spoke candidly.
Although not a rookie, Gareon Conley played so little, he may as well be a first year starter. With the season approaching, Gruden offered this assessment.
“Yeah, it’s great to see Conley out there. We’re counting on him. We need him. But to see Rashaan Melvin and Conley and [Daryl] Worley competing is really exciting. Conley is special. He’s a top pick in this draft for a reason. I think from a confidence standpoint, he needs to get some work in out here.”
Granted, the first day of OTA may not mean much in the big picture. However, Conley practicing signifies a huge step forward. As a result, the expectations for Conley will rise and the team should expect to depend on him. When the Rams call, Conley must occupy one of the starting spots.
In addition, Gruden thought Brandon Parker and Kolton Miller acquitted themselves fairly well.
“We like what we see. We like it a lot. Number one, we changed plays, I think, 30 times today. We went with a no-huddle offense, I think 16 times today. ran numerous gap-blocking plays, zone blocking plays, different protections, so the mental part of it is what is most exciting. We already know we like them physically. Both of these guys can handle a lot of system football and process information quickly. That was really impressive today.”
Miller’s draft spot places a rather large spotlight on him. Regardless of how small his actions are, eyes will stay on him. As a result, media and fans will pick apart his practices with vigor. On the other hand, Brandon Parker can actually take a small breather and relax. Under those consequences, Parker, as a right tackle will not have the weight of the world on his shoulders. Considering Gruden only drafted one other tackle in the first two rounds before (Jeremy Trueblood, in 2006), Miller must possess a quality to justify his selection.
Back to Miller, handling the physical demands of the tackle spot could be the easiest aspect of his entire rookie season. On the contrary, playing for Tom Cable and Jon Gruden would stress anyone. As we know, Jon Gruden approaches offense football in a very specific fashion. For now, Gruden sees something special in Miller. Whether he can survive the onslaught of hard coach remains to be seen. However, all young players need to remember that Gruden will upgrade your position in an eyeblink.