Despite the Raiders making Trent Brown the highest-paid offensive lineman in NFL history during free agency, he will begin the offseason at right tackle, Raiders coach Jon Gruden said Friday morning at the start of rookie minicamp.
Brown’s four-year, $66 million deal screams left tackle money, but salary evidently doesn’t dictate position on the offensive line in the minds of the Raiders’ coaching staff.
Kolton Miller, the Raiders’ 2018 first-round pick who battled nagging knee and shoulder injuries throughout his mediocre rookie season, will start the offseason at left tackle. Miller, despite those ailments, started all 16 games for the Raiders at left tackle. He and center Rodney Hudson were the only two Raiders offensive lineman to accomplish that last year.
Miller, a Roseville High School graduate, received a 48.2 overall grade from Pro Football Focus last season, 76th among offensive tackles and “below average,” according to PFF. He played a significant role in Derek Carr taking 51 sacks last season, which tied for the third-most sacks taken by a quarterback in the NFL.
Brown will still face some of the NFL’s best pass rushers in the AFC West, even if he stays at right tackle. Denver’s Von Miller lines up opposite right tackles, and Brown will block either Joey Bosa or Melvin Ingram when facing the Chargers. He might also face new Chiefs defensive end Frank Clark, who finished sixth in the league with 14 sacks for the Seahawks last season (Clark’s most sacks in a game last season were his 2.5 against the Raiders in London in Week 6).
Brandon Parker, who started 12 games for the Raiders at right tackle during his rookie season after Donald Penn’s Week 4 injury sent him to injured reserve, will be the Raiders’ swing tackle.
“We like that as a launching pad for us,” Gruden said. “Trent played very well at right tackle for San Francisco. He played left tackle very well for New England. He gives us some versatility and that’s how we’re gonna start the show.”
Gruden also said Gabe Jackson will stay at right guard as opposed to switching back to left guard, the position he played for the first two seasons of his NFL career with the Raiders. Raiders general manager Mike Mayock said last Saturday that Denzelle Good is penciled in as the starting left guard after the Raiders didn’t draft an offensive lineman, but Gruden anticipates competition for that spot.
“The door is wide open at left guard,” Gruden said. “We’re going to continue to look at players that can come in and compete at that position.”
Others who might push Good for the starting left guard spot are Chaz Green, who started one game at left guard for the Raiders last season, and Jordan Devey, who started two games for the Chiefs last season, one at right guard and one at center.
As it stands now, the Raiders’ starting offensive line is a collection of massive human beings.
Miller, according to a recent interview with The Athletic, is up to 330 pounds and stands 6-foot-8. Good is 6-foot-5 and 345 pounds, Hudson is 6-foot-2 and 300 pounds, Jackson is 6-foot-3 and 335 pounds and Brown is the NFL’s biggest player at 6-foot-8 and 380 pounds.
Now it’s up to offensive line coach Tom Cable to get more out of his group than last season, when the Raiders had one of the worst pass-protection units in the league and finished 25th in rushing yards per game.