In March, the Oakland Raiders upgraded their offensive line by signing the top free-agent tackle on the market in former Patriot Trent Brown.
Brown protected Tom Brady’s blindside last season at left tackle and signed a four-year, $66 million contract. The deal included $36.75 million guaranteed, making Brown the highest-paid offensive lineman in NFL history.
With that kind of financial commitment and the Raiders’ 2018 first-round pick Kolton Miller struggling at left tackle last season, it seemed a foregone conclusion that Brown would slot in on Derek Carr’s blindside with Miller shifting to right tackle.
Coach Jon Gruden has other ideas and announced Friday that the highest-paid lineman in history wouldn’t even man the most important position on Oakland’s offensive line.
Brown will play right tackle, which he played some while with the 49ers, and Miller will remain at left tackle.
“We like that as a launching pad for us,” Gruden told reporters.
“Trent played very well at right tackle for San Francisco, he played left tackle very well for New England. That gives us some versatility. That’s how we’re going to start the show.”
Apparently, the Raiders still see Miller as their long-term solution at left tackle and want him to continue to gain experience at the position.
But the 2018 season was an utter disaster for the No. 15 overall pick in last year’s draft.
Per Pro Football Focus, Miller ranked 67th out of the 70 offensive tackles who played at least 400 snaps last season.
Miller allowed a league-high 16 sacks, and not only was that the worst in 2018, but it was one away from tying for the worst in the 13-year history of Pro Football Focus.
He didn’t fare better in the run game, as he ranked 61st out of 70 players in run blocking and had the worst grade of any NFL rookie offensive tackle since 2006.
Brown fared much better by ranking as the 32nd best offensive lineman, according to PFF.
While that is a dramatic improvement over Miller, it would also seem to indicate the Raiders overpaid Brown.
But Gruden is sticking with his plan of having Brown on the right side, and that decision should be beneficial for at least two games next season.
That’s because Von Miller of the Broncos lines up across the right tackle, as opposed to most elite pass rushers going up against the left tackle.
Additionally, Nathan Jahnke of PFF points out that many other elite pass rushers the Raiders will face next season line up across the right tackle.
The best edge pass rushers the Raiders will face this year are Von Miller twice, Khalil Mack, Joey Bosa twice, Cameron Wake, and J.J. Watt. All of them have lined up more on the offenses right side over their careers. That might be where you want your best OT.
— Nathan Jahnke (@PFF_NateJahnke) May 3, 2019
Maybe there is a method to Gruden’s madness. We’ll find out rather quickly, as Miller and the Broncos face Oakland in Week 1.
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