Change is a complicated thing. Some love and welcome change while others hate and try to reject it. Oakland Raiders fans must hope likes change is Kolton Miller because it would appear Miller is changing positions again.
After the Raiders signed former Patriots’ starting left tackle Trent Brown, questions began to surface about what would happen to Donald Penn, Kolton Miller, and Brandon Parker.
While the Penn predicament occured swiftly, with Penn being released from the team, Miller and Parker both now wait in question about their job security. Although the pair played different positions last year, the Brown signing may have them competing for the right tackle position during training camp.
Miller does have a couple interesting traits that help his situation: Miller originally played right tackle at UCLA (but had to swap to left tackle due to a Donald Penn injury), Miller is younger and only has one year of experience at left tackle, which hopefully means his memories and training at right tackle are nowhere near being too far gone, and he certainly has the faith of Jon Gruden that his potential has not been reached.
Nevertheless, Parker also has a case to be named the starter. Despite being a rookie, Parker started the final 12 games of the season at right tackle. Jon Gruden has also expressed his belief in Parker’s potential and did touch on how Parker was put into incredibly difficult situations, which is the best and worst thing for Parker. The experience is good because he has been in more tough situations than most rookie linemen have and will be able to use those experiences to better himself in later years. It is the worst thing because Parker struggled. Not only did he struggle but also, like many rookies have been known to do, Parker was incredibly hard on himself during the struggles. Parker’s almost unheard-of sequence of three straight sacks allowed against the Ravens last year was reportedly caused by him coming down hard on himself after the first sack.
However, Miller has had his struggles as well. As of December 17th, Miller had the most sacks allowed in the NFL (14). Although he did struggle with nagging knee problems, Miller was able to start all 16 games last season. Perhaps the team should have sat him in order to allow him to recover, but the Raiders continuing to start Miller through injury showed they trust him injured more than any other healthy left tackle on the team.
While both players struggled, they have struggled themselves into a competition for a starting right tackle spot. Nevertheless, one factor that may have not been considered is how Miller came to the NFL as a right tackle. He had to learn his opposite position just in the offseason while other left tackles have been practicing at and learning left tackle their entire lives. Gruden obviously wanted Miller, as the Raiders traded down to draft him, and it seems the most beneficial for Miller to start after returning to his original position at right tackle.