On the first day of the Oakland Raiders Organized Team Activities, rookie tackles Kolton Miller and Brandon Parker caught the attention of not only their teammates, but their head coach as well.
The Raiders first and third-round picks share a quiet demeanor, something fellow offensive lineman Gabe Jackson has picked up on.
“They don’t talk much,” Jackson said with a smile. “I’ve said a few things to them and they’re real quiet guys as of now. They probably may be talkers, but they’ve been quiet. But they’ve been working, working hard.”
Despite their quiet nature, the two are going about their business as any rookie should, by coming to work and absorbing everything around them, which is exactly what Jon Gruden wants.
“We like what we see,” Gruden said Tuesday. “We like it a lot.”
While the two big-bodied tackles aren’t exactly outspoken characters like their head coach, they let their game do the talking for them. The talent each of them boasts is clear, which is why Gruden is currently focused on how they’re processing the game mentally.
“Number one, we changed plays, I think, 30 times today,” he said. “We went with a no-huddle offense, I think 16 times today. We ran numerous gap blocking plays, zone blocking plays, different protections, so the mental part of it is what’s most exciting. We already know we like them physically. Both of these guys can handle a lot of system football and process information quickly. That was really impressive today.”
To Gruden’s point, there are certainly growing pains for every rookie that enters the league, but Miller and Parker have showed no signs of mental fatigue, or an inability to grasp the concepts at hand. One of the adjustments many players have to make, however, during their transition from college to the NFL, is adding a bit of strength. Doing so will benefit the player for obvious reasons, but maintaining their physical attributes is a priority.
“He’s [Miller] one of the most athletic tackles that I’ve ever seen. I mean ever seen,” Gruden said. “At the combine, his broad jump, I think, was almost 11 feet. That’s outstanding. Ran a sub five flat. We don’t want to take away from any of his athleticism, but remember, he’s an underclassman. All these draft picks have been on this tour, this rock-n-roll tour. Get to go to all these facilities and eat all of these meals. So, we just want to get him in great shape. Get him stronger but maintain his flexibility and his athleticism.”
“They’re two big kids – long,” linebacker Bruce Irvin added. “They’ve got enough body to put on a lot of weight. Brandon is athletic. I watched film on him and Kolton is athletic also. They’ve got two great guys to learn from in Breno [Giacomini] and Donald Penn. We’re really depending on those guys. We’re going to need those guys also, so I wish them luck and I am going to try to wear their ass out in practice.”
As Irvin, so delicately put – in true Bruce fashion – the rookies will face plenty of talent on the defensive side of the ball in practice alone, but they’ll have a group of talented offensive linemen to learn from throughout the year.
The maturation of both Miller and Parker could take time, but from the perspective of their head coach, they’re in the right place mentally. With just one day of OTAs under the team’s belt, seeing how the duo progress throughout the program will be something to keep an eye on.