Since his brutal 2018 rookie season, in which he allowed 16 sacks, the most out of all NFL tackles, Raiders LT Kolton Miller has dialed it in. Many fans were shocked at his choosing in the first round of the 2018 draft, but Miller has proved he was worth the pick. Even prior to Miller’s rough beginning in the regular season, his coaches knew he was something special. In the 2018 preseason, Miller beat out veteran offensive tackle Donald Penn, impressing, or shocking, many. After losing his job to Miller, Penn would be moved to right tackle.
Following Miller’s rookie season, the Raiders would sign former Patriots’ left tackle Trent Brown. Brown was one of Tom Brady’s most trusted lineman in New England, and many expected Brown to take over Miller’s left tackle position and move Miller to right tackle, a position Miller played during his 2016 season at UCLA. However, Miller would beat out Brown as well to hold his left tackle position.
As described in The Blind Side, the left tackle position is the most important quarterback protector, as the position is designed to prevent a right-handed quarterback from getting hit from behind. The fact that Miller has won position battles with anyone the Raiders could throw at him can mean huge things for the future. While Miller’s production increases, his chemistry and trust with Derek Carr increase as well.
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Last season, the Raiders ranked sixth in sacks allowed, allowing opponents to sack Carr about 1.8 times per game, and Miller’s blocking ability has played a major role in the team’s placement. Miller would allow seven sacks in 2019, about a fourth of the team’s sacks allowed (which, considering there are five linemen, is slightly worse than average). Although he has cut his sacks allowed in half, this is certainly not his peak. The Raiders’ media reported massive offseason improvements from Miller, but there is more work to be done.
Last season, Baltimore Ravens’ left tackle Ronnie Stanley allowed one sack the entire season. While we try to hold off on diving in too deeply to expectations, one sack per season should eventually be expected from a first-round pick with this much potential.
Entering his third season in the NFL, Miller should certainly be reaching his potential. The average career of an NFL offensive lineman is one of the shortest in the league. Also, it peaks in a player’s third or fourth season. By that time, the lineman will have seen a wide variety of moves and talent. Miller has had an interesting career, but the feeling is that he is on his way to becoming a star.