During the 2017 NFL Draft, we didn’t see an offensive tackle taken until the 20th overall pick. This year, it could be similar. Connor Williams from Texas seemed like an outstanding fit for the Cincinnati Bengals with the 12th overall pick, but the Bengals traded the 12th overall pick to the Buffalo Bills for their left tackle, Cordy Glenn, and the 21st overall pick. Ultimately, this pushes Williams’s stock down the board, unless a team like the New York Giants or Indianapolis Colts trades back with the Bills and acquires the 12th overall pick. Until then, it looks like we might not see an offensive tackle until later in the first round.
As you can tell, Connor Williams is my top offensive tackle for the 2018 NFL Draft. Who follows behind him? Mike McGlinchey out of Notre Dame is a great option for teams looking for a right tackle. What about Orlando Brown from Oklahoma? Historically, bad results at the NFL Scouting Combine with above average film doesn’t bode well. So where does that leave everyone else? One of the more common names being discussed among the peanut gallery is Kolton Miller out of UCLA.
Coming out of Roseville, California as a four-star recruit, Miller had plenty of looks from across the country. He had taken visits to Wisconsin and Oregon State, but he ultimately chose UCLA. The 2015 season was his first as a starter for the Bruins. He helped pave the way for Paul Perkins to over 1,000 yards rushing, and in 2016 he started five games at right tackle before getting injured. Last year, he started and played in every game as a left tackle and was named second-team All-Pac-12.
After declaring for the 2018 NFL Draft, there wasn’t much hype surrounding Kolton Miller, at least until we got to the NFL Scouting Combine and he tested better than the majority of the offensive tackles.
So clearly we know that Miller is an athletically gifted offensive tackle. His explosiveness is clear, but what about his technique? Let’s dive into some film and take look at his scouting report:
- Athletic offensive tackle with great length and weight for the position
- Moves well in the open field and can operate in space
- High-motor, looks for contact
- Executes zone, reach blocks and has ability to get to the second level
- Sets with wide base and well-timed punches
- Gifted laterally in pass protection and when reach blocking or down blocking
- Quick, explosive athlete who processes well against rush inside and outside of him
- Locks-out and maintain control/steer
On the play above, you’ll notice Miller (#77) setting up for pass protection. It’s far from a perfect rep, but it displays his ability to anchor (late) and move laterally against the spin. He resets his punch and it helps him maintain control. You’ll also notice some of his weaknesses in the play; he looks stiff, his kick-step with his set foot (outside foot) isn’t smooth, and it makes his transition to anchor even harder. He doesn’t give up a pressure, but he’ll need to clean up his footwork before he plays against elite NFL pass rushers.
On the play above, it’s a much better pass protection rep for Miller. Again, the angle to his kick-step is goofy and his set foot is awkward. However, he sets, anchors, and moves laterally. Hand placement is good and this is something that will need to happen consistently on the next level. Pass rushers on Sundays will be more efficient with their counter moves back inside, and if Miller can’t plant and transition his weight from his set foot to his post foot, there will be plenty of pressure on his quarterback.
In this play above, you’ll notice the left guard pulling down the line. As he does so, Miller (left tackle) executes a down block really well. He crosses the face of the defensive end and controls him the entire time. He explodes off the ball, locks his hands inside, and steers the defender for the entire play.
- Despite good angle in kick-step, his set foot (outside foot) stutter steps; not a smooth transition
- Angle in kick-step looks stiff and, at times, uncomfortable
- Height puts him in a tough position to play below pad level
- Hand placement gets wild before and after his punch
- Needs to get stronger for 1-on-1 situations
On the play above, you’ll see Miller (left tackle) setting up for pass protection. First, you’ll notice his kick-step has a really weird angle. Then, he constantly picks up his set foot (outside foot). This slows down his kick step, and it doesn’t help that his hip stiffness is evident. Fortunately, the edge rusher rounds his track to the quarterback, so he doesn’t sack him. However, the edge rusher keeps his hands active and it prevents Miller from resetting his hands and creating separation.
As you can see, Kolton Miller is far from a perfect prospect. He’s not the top offensive tackle in this class, but he’s one of the more gifted athletes, especially relative to his position. For that, teams will put more value into his draft stock, and he could get drafted earlier than many expect.
After evaluating four games from Miller’s 2017 season, I came away more impressed than I thought I would. I’ve heard a bunch of first round buzz regarding this prospect, but I don’t see it. Could he see his name called near the end of the first round? Definitely. The Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots could use offensive tackle help with the status of Jason Peters up in the air for the Eagles and Nate Solder having just left the Patriots to join the New York Giants.
When Miller gets drafted he’ll need to clean up his footwork. That was one of my biggest takeaways from his film, and it starts with his hip flexibility. He doesn’t look natural in his hips, but he moves well laterally. He sometimes exposes too much of his chest plate, and his functional strength in 1-on-1 situations will need to improve.
Through the grading scale, Miller finished with an overall grade of 4.59, a second round value. Whichever team drafts him, they’ll give him a shot at left tackle. With experience playing right tackle, that option will also be on the table. At this point, I like what I’ve seen from Miller. His upside boosts him up in an offensive tackle class that isn’t loaded with premier or elite talent.