Newest Oakland Raider Kolton Miller 'ready to get started' with new coach Jon Gruden
When most analysts discussed the Raiders in the weeks leading up to the NFL draft, the majority had Oakland using its first-round pick on a defensive player. Nearly every mock that was updated as late as draft day thought so.
So the team's selection of Roseville native Kolton Miller – a UCLA offensive tackle chosen after moving from 10th to 15th – seemed surprising to some. However, on draft day, it is believed that the Raiders got the position they targeted. They were said to be looking at Notre Dame's Mike McGlinchey – but he was selected by the 49ers one pick before Oakland was on the clock, which led to the Raiders trading down.
Several analysts graded the Raiders' draft haul. All handed out similar marks – not good, but not bad, either. Here is the team's full draft class and a closer look at what analysts had to say:
The Raiders' 2018 draft class
Round 1, 15th pick: Kolton Miller, offensive tackle, UCLA
Round 2, 57th pick: P.J. Hall, defensive tackle, Sam Houston State
Round 3, 65th pick: Brandon Parker, offensive tackle, North Carolina A&T
Round 3, 87th pick: Arden Key, defensive end, LSU
Round 4, 110th pick: Nick Nelson, cornerback, Wisconsin
Round 5, 140th pick: Maurice Hurst, defensive tackle, Michigan
Round 5, 173rd pick: Johnny Townsend, punter, Florida (compensatory selection)
Round 6, 216th pick: Azeem Victor, linebacker, Washington (compensatory selection)
Round 7, 228th pick: Marcell Ateman, wide receiver, Oklahoma State
Analyst Chad Reuter breaks down Oakland's draft class. Here's a sample:
"With many top-notch defenders on the board, the Raiders took an athletic but inconsistent tackle in Miller. His tape did not put him in the mid-first round. The team did get a third- and fifth-round pick in the trade to with Arizona to move five picks down (from 10 to 15), so that's a plus. ... Oakland doctors signed off on Hurst, a first-round talent who was diagnosed with a heart condition at the NFL scouting combine. He's going to be a star."
Add Pete Prisco to the list of analysts who see the Raiders' three-day haul as average:
"Jon Gruden wanted to get better on the offensive line, and he did, but what about the defensive issues? They still need corner and linebacker help, but didn't take a corner until the fourth round ... First-round pick Kolton Miller is a good player, and they did add picks to trade down in the first round before taking him. ... Third-round pass rusher Arden Key could be a major steal. He had some off-field issues that drove his value down, but he has the ability to be a major force off the edge. Fifth-round defensive tackle Maurice Hurst could be a steal if he's medically OK."
The site's two analysts, Sam Monson and Steve Palazzolo, broke down each day and, instead of giving letter grades, used a scale of elite, good, above average, average and below average. Here's a bit on Day 1:
"The Raiders moved back and secured the draft’s most athletic tackle in Kolton Miller, who excels on the front side of outside zone runs. However, Miller has had an uneven career at UCLA ... and he must do a better job with his hands in order to succeed at the next level."
Analyst Frank Schwab points out that the Raiders took a lot of chances this year, but the rewards could be worth the risks:
"Taking a gamble on a pick or two with red flags can work out. How about taking chances on just about every pick? Jon Gruden’s first draft in his return was a boom-or-bust clinic. ... This grade could end up being a strong 'A' in three years if everything works out. But it’s hard to remember the last single draft class that contained this much risk."
SI's Andy Benoit seemed OK with the Raiders' draft haul:
"It seems that after 10 years away from coaching, head coach Jon Gruden forgot that his football team has a defense. Well, at least Gruden remembered that other teams have defenses. It was the fear of those – and specifically those in the AFC West, where dominant pass rushers seem to grow on trees – that prompted Gruden to use his first-and third-round picks on offensive tackles. ... (those players they'll) be blocking twice a year are Von Miller, Joey Bosa and Justin Houston."
Draft analyst Nate Davis also didn't seem too high or low on Oakland's selections:
"Drafts are replete with boom-or-bust prospects. Jon Gruden's return produced what looks like a boom-or-bust draft. ... Gruden clearly prioritized offensive tackles, correctly moving down in Round 1 for Kolton Miller before taking North Carolina A&T's Brandon Parker in the third. Were either overdrafted in a thin tackle class? Stay tuned."