Oakland Raiders: What can we expect from Kolton Miller in 2019?

Photo by James Chance/Getty Images
Photo by James Chance/Getty Images /

Oakland Raiders left tackle Kolton Miller struggled in his rookie season. So what could we expect from him when he takes the field in 2019?

The Oakland Raiders knew that they were taking a risk when they selected UCLA offensive tackle Kolton Miller with the15th overall pick back in last year’s draft.

The Pac-12 standout had the athletic profile and potential of a franchise left tackle, but needed to improve his technique before he could truly reach his ceiling. At pick No. 15, it was considered a bit of a reach at the time, but if it worked out, none of that would end up mattering.

But Oakland was well aware of the fact that Miller’s rookie season could be filled with growing pains. And even though Miller did manage to start all 16 games, his performance left a lot to be desired.

Miller finished with a horrendous Pro Football Focus grade of 48.2 which placed him as the No. 81 offensive tackle out of only 85 that even received a grade. He struggled mightily in pass protection — a key cog in a Raiders offensive line that took a major step back last year.

Oakland Raiders: Can Jonathan Cooper win the starting left guard job?. light. Related Story

Now, the 23-year-old was hindered by a knee injury that he suffered early in the year which definitely played a role in his poor play. In fact, prior to his injury, Miller was actually playing some solid football.

Through the first four weeks of the season, Miller was credited with allowing only half a sack and five total pressures. Those numbers are even more promising when you consider the stout group of pass rushers that he was tasked with blocking.

Von Miller, Myles Garrett, and Robert Quinn are just a few of the names that Miller went up against and it’s safe to say that he fared pretty well. But once the injury set in, the rest of his season was all downhill.

More from Las Vegas Raiders News

To their credit, the Raiders did their best to ensure that the offensive line — perhaps the biggest issue with the offense last season — was better prepared this season. After all, starting two rookie offensive tackles — project tackles at that — is a recipe for disaster.

Oakland went out and signed former New England Patriots tackle Trent Brown in the offseason. The highly-paid lineman played left tackle while in New England but will be asked to shift back to the right side with the Raiders.

This is a direct vote of confidence in the young Miller who will continue to work through his struggles and man the blindside.

With a clean bill of health, it’s clear that head coach Jon Gruden and the Raiders believe that Miller could bounce back in a big way in 2019.

"“We think Kolton Miller is going to be one of the best at 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. Being in the second year of the system, I expect a lot of good things.”"

More from Golden Gate Sports

Expectations should undoubtedly be curbed given his less-than-stellar rookie campaign, but there’s reason to be hopeful about Miller this season.

He’ll hopefully be returning to full health following an injury-riddled rookie year, he will have had another year to grow and develop as a player, and he should be playing alongside an improved offensive line.

Now, it would be foolish to get too optimistic. But expecting improvement shouldn’t be out of the question.

If Miller could improve to the level of a league-average left tackle this season, that should be considered a massive win for both him and the Raiders.

But if injuries pile up or he struggles once again, they might have to reconsider their long-term plans at the left tackle position.

dark. Next. Oakland Raiders: 3 players poised to break out in 2019

Who knows what the 2019 season has in store for Miller and the Raiders, but it certainly should be interesting to watch.