When the Raiders made former Patriots left tackle Trent Brown the highest paid offensive lineman in football, we all just assumed they would let him play left tackle in Oakland and shift second-year offensive lineman Kolton Miller to the right side. But that's apparently not the Raiders' plan.
On Friday, Raiders coach Jon Gruden told reporters that they plan to use Miller at left tackle and Brown at right tackle. At the very least, that's how they will start off.
"We like that as a launching pad for us," Gruden said, via NFL.com. "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."
As Gruden noted, Brown played right tackle for the 49ers before making the switch to left tackle for the Patriots. Still, it's a bit surprising to hear that Brown will be making the move back to the right side in Oakland given and how much Miller struggled after the Raiders made him the 15th-overall pick a year ago.
more than $36 million guaranteed at signing. Miller graded out as Pro Football Focus' 80th best offensive tackle out of 80 eligible offensive tackles last season, per Rotoworld's Evan Silva. Brown ranked 32nd, according to PFF's Sam Monson. Those rankings mean a couple different things. It means the Raiders are sticking the better player on the right side of their line. It also means the Raiders probably overpaid for Brown.with
Now, just because Gruden is saying the Raiders plan to start with Miller on the left and Brown on the right doesn't mean they can't swap the two players in August or September. If Miller's struggles persist throughout the summer, the Raiders can always make an adjustment before the season begins. As Gruden said, it's a "launching pad."
One could argue that the Raiders would be better off just letting the two switch sides right now to give Miller time to adjust, but the Raiders might want to demonstrate confidence in their highly drafted player by giving him a chance to keep his job. Whether that confidence translates into success remains to be seen.
Then again, there's an argument to be made that the Raiders should probably play their best offensive tackle in the position that figures to see the majority of action against the top-tier pass rushers the Raiders will face this season. That also makes sense. And here's where we note that Von Miller once called Brown the best right tackle in football.
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
Pass protection for the Raiders takes on even more importance considering how much quarterback Derek Carr struggles under pressure. According to PFF, Carr's passer rating under pressure last season was 58.1, which ranked 25th of 33 qualified quarterbacks. When he had a clean pocket, Carr's passer rating rose to 104.8 (17th).
Last season, the Raiders allowed 52 sacks, tied for the fifth-most in football. According to Football Outsiders, their offensive line ranked 25th in pass blocking -- hence their decision to sign Brown.