Tackle Kolton Miller has always had quarterback Derek Carr’s back, but now the fourth-year man must take on another key role for the Las Vegas Raiders.
With three veterans on the offensive line—center Rodney Hudson, guard Gabe Jackson, and tackle Trent Brown—traded away by the Silver and Black, it’s time for the 15th player selected in the 2018 NFL Draft to become a leader.
And Miller seems to get it.
“Things got moved around a lot,” the 6-8, 325-pound Miller said. “But that happens with teams. … I try to get together as much as I can with the younger guys. I try to get in extra work. I try to lead by example and I just try to do the best I can to teach these (young) guys.
“I think that was the biggest lesson I learned as a rookie, to learn from the older guys, and I just took that and carry that to the younger guys. I’m really excited to take this team to the next level and I’m going to do all I can to do that.”
Since he plays left tackle, Miller has had the responsibility since he came to the Raiders of protecting Carr’s blindside on passing plays.
Pro Football Focus ranked Miller as the 34th-best tackle among 79 in the NFL last season, but he had the 15th-best pass-blocking score and has gotten better every season since coming out of UCLA.
“He’s worked his tail off,” Carr said of Miller, who has started 46 of 48 games in three seasons, missing two last year because of knee and elbow injuries. “I knew that about him. When he was playing early in the season, he was locking some people up, and then when he got hurt, he never missed a practice, never missed a rep in practice.
“If Coach said he had to get out, he said, ‘No, Coach, I’m good.’ I knew right then and there, this guy is going to do whatever it takes next year to come in and be better. I’ve seen nothing but that from him–someone that is just gritty.”
Added Coach Jon Gruden: “We think Kolton Miller is going to be one of the best left tackles in football. He’s not only healthy, he’s in great shape. He’s gotten a lot stronger. He’s added some weight and some muscle.”
The Raiders think so much of Miller, also a key blocker for Josh Jacobs and the running game, that they recently made him one of the highest-paid tackles in the NFL with a three-year contract extension that includes $42.5 million worth of guarantees.
Miller is ready to live up to that.
“I was actually surprised coming out of year three going into year four,” the 25-year-old Miller said of the contract extension. “You dream about this when you’re a little kid and through the season. But I’m definitely excited to continue my career here. Continue to work hard and prove to the coaches here that I’m invested and I’m going to continue to get better.
“What I want to prove most to my coaches, to my teammates, to the fans, that to really invest and prove myself as much as I can to be their left tackle, to protect DC. That stuff can distract you, can get you off the path to where you want to go.
“I’m going to continue to improve. I’m going to get stronger, I’m going to improve my technique. It doesn’t stop here. I just took that mentality and it’s really helped me along the way.”
Guard Richie Incognito, 37, is back for another season with the Raiders, but the day is coming in the not-too-distant future when Miller will become the elder statesman in the O-line room.
The Silver and Black have said with their checkbook that they believe he has what it takes.
Please make sure you tell us your thoughts when you like our Facebook Page WHEN YOU CLICK RIGHT HERE.
Want the latest breaking Las Vegas Raiders news delivered straight to you? CLICK THE FOLLOW button at the top of the page. Don't miss any of the latest up to the second updates for your Las Vegas Raiders when you follow on Twitter @HondoCarpenter