We see it every year after the NFL Combine. Athletic freaks that test through the roof in the “Underwear Olympics” get vaulted up big boards over players with better tape and average testing times.
This is partially due to how scouting works regarding when head coaches finally get their eyes on the prospects. The Combine can be their first exposure to a player and scouts have lamented that often months of work gets thrown away when the boss changes gears on them after witnessing a buzz-worthy performance.
Fatal flaws get ignored, “upside” gets thrown around, any lapses in technique can be “coached”. It happens every year, without fail, and teams will largely whiff on these prospects if they don’t have elite position coaches unlocking the potential of these raw but uber-athletic prospects. Even if they don’t have that support system in place, hubris will take care of any doubt, and that’s how busts are born.
All 32 teams were repped at @UCLAFootball pro day, including HCs from CIN, SD, NO; GMs from ATL, NYJ; and NYJ OC Jeremy Bates.— Gil Brandt (@Gil_Brandt) March 16, 2018
An afterthought after disastrous 2017 debut vs. Texas A&M, OT Kolton Miller now looks locked for middle of Round 1. Carbon copy of Nate Solder.
UCLA’s LT Kolton Miller is becoming one of those risers. First, the analytics boost him up after only allowing 15 quarterback pressures and 2 sacks in 2017 (per Pro Football Focus). Second, the Combine numbers were eye-popping.
Kolton Miller of @UCLAFootball posted the 2nd highest #RAS of all time, behind only Titans LT Taylor Lewan. pic.twitter.com/GQEFWVV4KU— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 23, 2018
The 10’1” broad jump broke the record for offensive linemen, indicating elite lower body explosion. Now everybody is seemingly in on Miller as a surefire first round selection. But can he play football? Let’s take a look around the media and see what folks are saying about the UCLA product.
TONY PAULINE – DRAFT ANALYST
Miller stood on his combine numbers but looked very athletic during position drills. He’s a long, lean tackle who moved well about the field. I was surprised to find out that many teams feel he’ll stay at left tackle in the NFL, as I’ve always viewed Miller as a right tackle prospect. Scouts love his upside and feel he has the agility to stay on the blind side.
LANCE ZIERLEIN – NFL.COM
Miller is an exceptionally tall tackle prospect who lacks the flexibility in his hips to drop his pad level and play with better leverage and a stronger base. His lateral movements in his pass slides are segmented and there are reps that he has to completely break from his technique to chase edge rushers to the corner. Miller has the frame to add more mass and he may need to make the move to the right side as a pro. He has the physical traits to become an average NFL starter, but I see pass protection concerns in his future.
LUKE EASTERLING – DRAFT WIRE
Miller’s certainly not the most polished prospect in this year’s tackle class, but his rare athleticism was on full display during his impressive combine workout. Those physical tools give him plenty of upside, and it could be enough to make him the first player taken at his position.
CHRIS TRAPASSO – CBS
Miller is a large, physically gifted offensive tackle who’s been one of the bright spots on UCLA’s line for the past few season. He’s matured into a quality pass-protector who wins with length and footwork, which NFL teams will love.
JEFF RISDON – BROWNS WIRE
What really stood out with Miller’s workout is how smoothly he moved for such a tall guy. In his positional drills, Miller was fluid and balanced, much more than his peers. He seemed quite comfortable changing direction and coordinating blocking-style movements on the fly.
Kolton Miller shows a persistent false step out of his stance in pass-protection. By stepping forward w/his post foot at the snap he puts himself behind the rusher’s path, forcing his base to narrow & hips to open in an attempt to recover, creating a 2-way go for the rusher. pic.twitter.com/6eKyCt5Rv5— Brandon Thorn (@VeteranScout) March 22, 2018
Went down the Kolton Miller rabbit hole with @VeteranScout earlier. Needs a lot of work with pass pro fundamentals. Like here. Head duck, places his hands instead of throwing them. Game over. pic.twitter.com/U4OPozT1fb— Mike Golic Jr (@MGolicJR57) March 22, 2018
UCLA OT Kolton Miller tested like an elite athlete, but the footwork tells a different story. As @VeteranScout noted before, post-foot false steps forward consistently, forcing him to retreat. pic.twitter.com/w987P47J0n— Michael Kist (@MichaelKistNFL) March 25, 2018
For my money, Miller needs his pass set rebuilt from the ground up. This takes time and may never pay off. The thoughts of selecting a players that needs a military level re-wiring at 32 overall seems a bit pricey when there are other known quantities available with a higher floor.