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By Levi Edwards | Digital Team Reporter

Kolton Miller is a simple man to please: He loves the great outdoors; he loves good food; and he loves football.

All three of those provide comfort and sanity for the Raiders left tackle, who has quietly been on the rise since he was drafted by the Raiders in 2018. In the offseason, while Miller is away from the game of football, he tries to get outside and enjoy nature as much as he can. That includes fishing trips across the country with his family and friends – an activity he's found great tranquility in.

"I went to Alaska this past offseason and caught a big halibut, an Alaskan halibut. It was about 90 pounds and a good five feet," Miller said. "I've caught some halibut in San Francisco and it was nothing like Alaskan halibut. I caught some steelhead – it was like a 37- or 38-inch steelhead. Yeah, that was a good time."

The Alaskan halibut is one of the biggest flatfish found in the sea, something Miller can probably relate to as one of the biggest offensive linemen in the NFL. After signing a three-year extension this offseason, Miller is in the midst of his best season yet: The former UCLA Bruin has played every single offensive snap for the Raiders with a 82.2 overall PFF grade, the best of any AFC left tackle this season.

Miller's success has been no surprise to his teammates.

"Kolton is one of my best friends," Andre James said during 2021 Training Camp. "Coming into the league, he was a huge mentor to me. Him, Richie, hanging out with those guys just showed me the ropes because it's a little different than college. But me and him were both real close at UCLA so to both end up here in the same place is pretty awesome. I can't even explain it."

Richie Incognito also detailed his relationship with Miller in the offseason and how pleased he's been to see him improve since they've become teammates.

"I think Kolton is a stud," said Incognito. "I think he's got a bright future ahead of him. He's grown every year as a player. He's a stud out there at left tackle, and I don't think he gets enough credit for how good he is.

"I came in in 2019 and just tried to help him a little bit," continued Incognito. "Help him with his technique, help him when he's out there thinking, and what he's out there trying to do and he balled out. He balled out in 2019 and in 2020, and that's why he's sitting there with a brand new contract."


Miller told that the common bond that links James, Incognito and himself — "the three amigos" on the offensive line — off the field has been good food. The three find time to go out and eat at a variety of restaurants around the Las Vegas Valley with sushi, Korean barbecue and Chinese food being some of their favorite choices. When they're not dining out, they'll eat some home-cooked meals, with James earning the label of head chef for the offensive line — James baked and then deep fried a turkey for the offensive linemen's Thanksgiving dinner meal.

"The three of us, we throw down food," Miller said with a light chuckle. "Trying to keep the weight up, we'll go around and try different food spots in Vegas."

"He’s an unbelievable player and I couldn’t imagine life without him." – Derek Carr

Keeping that weight up has helped Miller block for Derek Carr's blindside this season. Carr has also thrown for more than 4,000 yards every season Miller has been his left tackle – even reaching a career-high in passing yards this season, with two games remaining.

"He's grown so much," Carr said. "His rookie year, I mean, I think he had every injury known to man. So, the poor guy was fighting and trying to stay healthy. But one thing I learned that year was how tough he was, especially with what he was playing with and knowing that pain because I've had a similar thing, but watching him grow over the years into a really, really good, dominant left tackle – one of the best in the game."

"Again, if you ask me, he's got to be a Pro Bowler. It's crazy that he wasn't," Carr said with astonishment. "But hopefully as he keeps playing, he'll get more recognition and people will get to know his name a little bit more and he can get those votes. But he's an unbelievable player and I couldn't imagine life without him. I couldn't imagine where we'd be without Kolton Miller because he does not get enough credit for being one of the best players on this football team."

The role Miller has on the Raiders offensive line has skyrocketed more than anyone could've imagined. The 15th overall pick in the 2018 Draft has gone from a rookie starter trying to learn the ropes to the longest tenured starter on the Raiders offensive line.

"I'm the old guy now; it's crazy," joked Miller, who just turned 26 in October. "Time flies. You hear it all the time, it goes by quick. I definitely like it now more than the rookie year. The rookie year is probably the toughest because you have to adapt and things seem way faster. It's cool now, but I definitely don't miss the first year."

The rookie season that Miller isn't fond of consisted of him surrendering 16 sacks, the most of any tackle in the 2018 season. Since that year, he's surrendered three less sacks than that total over the span of the three seasons. He's gotten faster, stronger and more experienced, and he attributes a lot of his growth to leaning on his family while making small adjustments to his everyday life as an NFL player.

"It's a big jump," continued Miller. "First and foremost, you've got to adjust quickly and kind of learn on the fly a little bit. It's a big jump between college and NFL and you really absorb as much as you can and learn real quickly to excel. My mom always had words of encouragement, my dad always tried to be there. The biggest thing off the field [for me] is managing your time. You have a lot of freedom when you become an NFL player, so really just being able to manage your time positively and not getting into distractions and eating right. You got to have some discipline with it too."

"The last play doesn’t matter, what really matters is the next play." – Kolton Miller

A veteran influence for Miller during his rookie year was Donald Penn. Miller's arrival to the Raiders was not easy for Penn – as they both played the position. Miller was perceived to be Penn's replacement at the position despite Penn coming off his third Pro Bowl selection the previous season. But ever the professional, Penn moved over to right tackle as Miller got the start on the left side and did what he could in his 12th NFL season to guide Miller on his path of becoming the future of the offensive line.

"For him to go out there and play the whole season as a rookie is tough," Penn said. "He was thrown right into the fire, but I feel like sometimes it works out in the long run because look at him now, he's playing great. He's playing great football so he learned a lot in that first year."

"I thought he just had to get a little bigger, get a little stronger," continued Penn. "He was coming from college and I feel like every offensive lineman has to do that. But I felt like Kolton had to get a little bigger, a little stronger. Kolton was kind of like a robot. He was real technically sound and everything was the same. I used to tell him, 'You've got to switch stuff up now in this league' because people are going to adapt if you keep on doing the same thing, especially as a tackle. … I used to tell him to relax and make it look smooth, and now I'm watching him, and everything looks fluent. His run blocking is superb, and he's even showing some more nastiness.

"Kolton is a quiet leader."

Miller and his offensive line teammates have had their share of moments in 2021. The unit has produced five games over 100 rushing yards and six games over 300 passing yards. In a season with its share of adversity, Miller has made it a goal to "not get too high or get too low," and that consistency is what he's most proud of this season.

"You've really got to live in the moment, and that's the tricky thing with linemen," said Miller. "You have to do your job every down, every play and be consistently good. The last play doesn't matter; what really matters is the next play. Just being able to do your job over and over. And you stack the plays up stack the games up. I'm still trying to do that, it's definitely not easy. I'm just taking pride in what I do and what we do as an O-line.

"I don't want to have any regrets so whatever my best is, I want to try and chase that and be that everyday. Because by the end of it, you only get so much football. While you're in it, you want to do as best as you can, so I try to chase that."

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