Breaking down film of both offensive tackles the Oakland Raiders selected in the draft, Kolton Miller and Brandon Parker.
The Oakland Raiders made headlines this weekend by selecting two tackles in the first two days of the draft. Their first-round pick, Kolton Miller, is a freakish athlete with inconsistent film. Third-round pick Brandon Parker is a four-year starter with good film against low-level competition and poor athletic testing scores. Let’s take a deeper dive into each player and discuss what we may be able to expect from the two newest tackles in Silver and Black.
Starting with the first-round pick, rumors of the team’s interest in Miller surfaced in the week prior the draft. This news drew the ire of many Raiders fans, as there simply wasn’t much to be excited about with him in a draft chalk full of potential defensive stars.
On Thursday night, many nightmares became reality as the Raiders took Miller at 15th overall following a trade back with the Arizona Cardinals. In taking Miller, the Raiders passed on potential defensive cornerstones such as Minkah Fitzpatrick, Tremaine Edmunds, Harold Landry, and Derwin James. The selection won’t be so bad in hindsight if Kolton does ultimately develop into a franchise left tackle like OL coach Tom Cable believes he can, but how likely is that to occur?
For starters, Kolton has a phenomenal athletic profile. If he puts it together and sorts out his mechanics, he absolutely can develop into an elite LT. Per Mock Draftable, his athleticism is among the best of any OT to ever test at the combine.
Miller’s explosive and speed numbers put him in elite company, and his broad jump was the best ever for a tackle at the combine. He even has a frame that is capable of putting on some weight while maintaining his explosiveness.
So we know he is a phenomenal athlete, but what does he look like on the field? Because Kolton will ideally begin his career at right tackle, I first decided to look at some of his 2016 film to gauge his comfort level there because he played on the right side during that season. I came away largely unimpressed.
Miller is the tackle on the nearside of the screen. He gets overpowered and driven right into Rosen, who comes up limping after the play. By being driven into the pocket, he negatively affects the passing action of his QB who is unable to step into his throw.
Here we see what might be the most terrifying play that I watched from Miller. He is simply far too slow coming out of his pass set and easily is blown by on the outside. Luckily for him the edge rusher slips before landing a crushing shot on Rosen. The last thing Raider Nation wants to see is Von Miller getting this type of opportunity on Derek Carr.
An issue that reared its ugly head time and time again was Kolton’s inability to get his hands on a defender. Then next play shows him getting his hands thrown off of the body of a defender and him getting thrown around like a carousel.
Next, we see another whiff in pass protection. Miller has a “hitch” in his pass set according to some OL coaches such as Only 1 Nation’s own Robert Ortiz, who explains the problem as a hiccup-like motion that results in him “rolling his weight to the outside half” forcing him to open up, putting him out of position to effectively protect the passer.
Miller’s hitch comes during his second step, which he should be using to drive to depth. Instead, it is a false step — he simply lifts his foot and replaces it in the same location rather than gaining the depth critical to an effective pass set.
I was equally unimpressed with Miller in the running game. On the next clip, we see a play that will be a big part of the Raiders offense in 2018 — an Inside Zone run (I know many fans cringe when they hear the “Z word” but it was an important part of the prolific 2016 offense and it’s pretty much a staple in the NFL at this point).
Kolton is looking to block the DE but he doesn’t expect the DE to crash down. He simply continues upfield instead of blocking the LB that ends up in the path he is supposed to block. That same LB ends up in on the tackle.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom, thankfully. The next play shows how cerebral of a player Miller can be. Kolton notices the EDGE defender slow-playing his pass rush, so he helps set the blitzing LB to the Guard before switching to the EDGE. This is what you like to see from a smart tackle.
Next is an instance of what Miller can do if he gets proper hand placement. He gets his hands inside on the DT to “drive the car” and ends up putting the tackle on the turf. If he gets consistent at this, he can be an effective power run blocker.
Miller’s 2016 film at right tackle left a lot to be desired, so I decided to take a look at his 2017 film at left tackle. Word is he got better as the year went on so I decided to look at the Utah game in November.
Remember to watch the left tackle now. Here we see that he still has that hitch in his pass set but overall his set is much smoother and he is able to effectively block the edge rusher. This is a much more effective pass set.
Miller is much more patient, mirroring the EDGE defender with ease. Another promising aspect of the play is how well he plays the inside counter spin, rendering the pass rusher ineffective.
Kolton also improved his Inside Zone skills in 2017. Kolton is checking the DT and setting him to the LG before blocking upfield, springing the RB upfield for a big gain. He was the blocker that made this play happen.
I wanted to see if his play continued to improve, so I turned on his Cactus Bowl film, his final collegiate football game.
While this play may not look like much, I really like it from Miller. The DE tries to beat him upfield on a speed rush. Instead of worrying about matching his depth, he decides to take a more efficient approach by forcing the end up the field. He does so with some attitude too, something I didn’t see much of on film from him.
Kolton has a TE on his side here so watch the second player on the near side. We see some power in the running game with Miller as he drives the DT (#99) toward the sideline, completely taking him out of the play.
Ultimately it was a solid game for Kolton, but I’d be remiss not to add just one more clip for comic relief.
So let’s hope that he isn’t asked to play any TE.
All in all, Miller still has a long way to go. He has some serious technical flaws that need to be ironed out, and OL coach Tom Cable hasn’t shown that he is able to develop talented athletes yet. Hopefully, Kolton can break that trend because if he can become a technically sound tackle, then the sky is really the limit. I think he will start the season at RT simply by virtue of his draft position, though I’m not sure if he will be ready for it. The preseason will be telling in how far along he is in his development.
Now let’s move on to the second tackle that the Raiders added during the draft, Brandon Parker out of North Carolina A&T.
In many ways, the team’s third-round pick is the polar opposite of Kolton Miller. Parker has four years of good film (albeit at a low level in the MEAC) but is a poor athlete by NFL standards.
Per Mock Draftable, we see a much less impressive spider graph, though his broad jump was quite strong. His height and length will be benefits as well.
His numbers are concerning in some important contexts, notably when looking at certain metrics. I will let James Cobern explain the details of what that means. Clicking on the embedded link has the video starting with Parker, but if you have the time I highly recommend watching the whole video.
I decided to take a look at some of Parker’s college film to see if he was the dominant force he should have been at a low level of competition. This is from the MEAC championship game.
On the first clip, we see him in pass protection. His stance actually reminds me of Donald Penn’s and he makes light work of the EDGE rusher similar to Penn as well.
While we touched on Parker’s relative lack of athleticism, here we see something that we don’t often see from an LT. He pulls to the second level and takes the MLB out of the play, paving the way for a good gain.
So Parker looks the part at the MEAC level, but what happens when we raise the level of competition? I decided to watch all of his snaps from the Senior Bowl. He played well for the most part, but there were several issues to note.
For one, he played a little bit high in his pass sets. That was an issue for him a couple of times, including on the next play in which Ogbonnia Okoronkwo (considered by many to be a top five pass rusher in the draft class) gets him off balance and beats him inside for a sack.
Parker is playing right tackle on this next play as well, and while playing high, Okoronkwo is able to get under his pads on the bull rush.
Parker’s bad snaps were far outnumbered by his good plays thankfully. He looked as comfortable at LT as one might expect from a four-year starter at the position.
Please forgive the recording angle here, but appreciate the power with which Parker is able to block with out of the left tackle position. He plays with a low base and strong hands.
Next, we see him getting another chance to block Okoronkwo, this time from LT. Watch how he plays with good foot quickness to mirror the rush and how he utilizes his length.
On this one, we see a smooth pass set against Vikings fourth-round pick Jalyn Holmes. Parker is patient and utilizes a strong punch with great timing, not allowing Holmes to engage.
On the next play, we see Parker back at RT. Again against Holmes, he utilizes his length well. He locks his hands inside the chest of Holmes. This is exactly how OL coaches draw it up. Long arms and inside hand placement will neutralize just about any pass rusher and Parker does a great job of that here.
Just as offensive lineman try to get their hands inside on a pass rusher, pass rushers try to do the same. The player with hands inside controls the rep. Here we see Wisconsin OLB Garrett Dooley (UDFA Vikings) try to engage Parker, who is at left tackle. Brandon stifles the rush by swiping away Dooley’s hands and forcing him past the QB.
On this next play, we see Parker again at LT playing with good balance and hand placement against Holmes. He plays with strong hands inside that stop the inside counter that beat him earlier against Okoronkwo.
In the run game, here we see Parker (LT) take advantage of the upfield angle that Okoronkwo took, redirecting him away from the run and clearing him out of the play in a dominant fashion.
Again at LT, we get to see Parker against a quick speed rush. Dooley jumps the snap and gets a full head of steam early. Brandon shields the angle to the QB forcing Dooley to take a path that arcs beyond the QB, just as he should. Notice at the end the TD is scored by Raiders 7th Round pick Marcell Ateman.
Finally, we will take a look at what might be my favorite play from Parker. He is playing LT on the draw play and completely mugs Okoronkwo. He plays with a nasty attitude, great power, and utilizes his length, and Okoronkwo simply doesn’t stand a chance.
Overall, I came away very impressed by the film that Parker put out. He looked great against good competition at LT. As an electrical engineering major, he has plenty of smarts for the position. If not for his average athletic testing and small-school pedigree, he would have been selected much earlier.
It is unclear what the plan is for Parker at this time. There is a glut of talent (or at least potential) now with the additions of Miller and Parker to a young tackle group that already included Jylan Ware, Vadal Alexander, and David Sharpe. I think the most impressive of the five on film might be Parker.
I know the team is planning on starting Miller on the right side and moving him over to the left until he is ready to take over for Penn. I don’t necessarily know if that is the best course of action. Obviously preseason and training camp will be telling for how Parker can adapt to the NFL level from the MEAC (a significant jump to be sure), but ultimately if his play translates like I think it can, then it may be wise to make Parker the LT of the future.
If I’m Gruden or Cable, I am putting Miller at RT indefinitely, letting Parker get all second-team reps at LT and then plugging him at that spot when he is ready. This would give Miller a home at RT and Parker a home at LT instead of forcing both players to switch sides (no small feat) when Penn is removed from the lineup. Particularly Miller, who already has enough technical flaws as it is, having him play right tackle for a year and then moving him to the left side would be a difficult transition.
Both players have enormous potential and I can absolutely envision a scenario in which they become a great set of bookend tackles for the Raiders. When paired with what is the most dominant interior offensive line in the NFL, it’s a little bit easier to see the vision of Gruden and company.