How will Kolton Miller, Trent Brown battle AFC West's elite edge rushers?

ALAMEDA, Calif. – To Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr, Kolton Miller looks “huge” and “great” and “not being weird, but the man looks like he’s ready.”

Trent Brown? Carr sees a guy who is a “great dude” and is “super chill all the time” and, yes, “he’s so big, man.”

A year after being sacked a David Carr-like 51 times, Derek Carr has a revamped offensive line with Miller’s physical transformation after an up-and-down rookie season and the Oakland Raiders giving Brown the richest contract for an O-lineman in NFL history.

Oh, and while the 6-foot-8, 329-pound Miller is staying at left tackle to protect Carr’s blind side, the 6-8, 380-pound Brown is settling in at right tackle … yes, even with that massive, four-year, $66 million contract, with $36.75 million guaranteed.

Left tackle money? With what the AFC West offers in terms of edge rushers, you could make the argument that right tackle is just as, if not more important, than the left side.

The Los Angeles Chargers boast Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa, who have combined for 35.5 sacks the past two seasons, while the Denver Broncos have Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, who had 26.5 sacks as a duo in 2018. The Kansas City Chiefs will run out a new pair in Frank Clark, who had a career-high 13 sacks for the Seattle Seahawks last season, and Alex Okafor, who had four sacks for the New Orleans Saints.

“Now around the league, there’s pass-rushers on either side,” Brown said. “So you have to have pretty much a good tackle on both sides."

In fact, before Brown’s standout season protecting Tom Brady’s blind side with the New England Patriots last year -- he held Ingram and Dee Ford, then of the Chiefs, to no sacks and two combined pressures in the playoffs before pitching another sack shutout against the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII -- Brown was a right tackle for the San Francisco 49ers.

Plus while Pro Football Focus had Raiders tackles giving up a league-high 30 sacks in pass protection last season, Brown was charged with allowing just three sacks in 580 pass-blocking snaps. (Brandon Parker, who started 12 games at right tackle as a Raiders rookie, will be the swing tackle this season).

And those two AFC teams that Brown shut out in the playoffs in the Chargers and Chiefs? Carr was sacked a combined 13 times by them. So, yeah, Brown was targeted with a specific purpose in mind early in free agency by Oakland.

The decision to keep Miller at left tackle was actually made easier by Brown’s arrival. Why stunt Miller’s growth by flipping the 2018 first-round pick back to a position he last played in college? Especially now that Miller is healthy after dealing with right knee and right elbow injuries last season.

The fact that he did not miss a game had Raiders coach Jon Gruden more than impressed.

“He’s a team guy, a quiet leader on this team and one of the toughest guys that we have and we’re proud of him," Gruden said.

“We think Kolton Miller is going to be one of the best left tackles in football. He’s not only healthy, he’s in great shape. He’s gotten a lot stronger. … Being in the second year of the system, I expect a lot of good things.”

As does Miller himself, and not just from, well, himself.

“I felt good staying left, but of course, I’m a team player,” Miller said.

“I’m going to go where they put me and what they think is best for the team, but I know that I have a job to do and I know last year wasn’t good enough. There was a lot of problems with that and I’m expected to be better, and I will be better.”

Praise in May is much different than reality in the fall. But Carr is absolutely digging what he sees in his tackles.

He has no other choice, really.

Because while there will be a learning curve in figuring out Brown’s tendencies, Carr already has experience with Miller.

“When he was playing early in the season, he was locking some people up, and then when he got hurt, he never missed a practice, never missed a rep in practice,” Carr said of Miller. “If coach said he had to get out, he said, ‘No, Coach, I’m good.’

“I knew right then and there, this guy is going to do whatever it takes next year to come in and be better. I’ve seen nothing but that from him -- someone that is just gritty. He’s super quiet, so you all don’t get to see that side of him, but I’ve seen him grind his teeth, really bear down in certain situations where I’ve seen other people cower away, to be honest with you. He hasn’t shown that, not even close, and to see him come in how big and strong he is in the weight room and how much it meant to him, it was really cool to see. It confirmed everything I believed about him.”

The AFC West’s Murderer’s Row of Edge Rushers will put Carr’s belief in Miller and Brown to the test.