Oakland Raiders 2019 team award predictions and analysis
By Daniel Davis
Most Improved Player: Kolton Miller
I thought for a little bit about this one too and I wanted to go left field on this one also. My criteria for this is since it’s “improved” player I feel it needs to be a player who was on this team last year so I’m excluding newly signed players and rookies as naturally, rookies will be improved automatically.
With that said, I believe the most improved player this year will be a push between Kolton Miller and Nicholas Morrow.
Brad Weiss for Just Blog Baby did a fantastic piece explaining why Kolton Miller, although having flaws, is important for the Raiders in 2019. The improved Miller will have a lot of pressure taken off of him with Trent Brown anchoring the right side of the line and depth at guard and center with Johnathon Cooper, Denzelle Good, Gabe Jackson, and Andre James.
Monday Night will be a huge test for Miller going up another Miller, Von Miller, an elite pass rusher in the NFL. Not to mention Miller has been going up against Arden Key and Clelin Ferrell this offseason with Johnathon Abrams and Lamarcus Joyner blitzing from the safety position.
Last year was a tough year for Carr due to having two rookie tackles starting, but this year, Trent Brown can help with that. If Brown can lock down the right side, and Miller the left, then Carr should have the time he needs to operate with all the new weapons at his disposal.
My second most improved player will be Nicholas Morrow. The third-year linebacker is part of defense which only rostered five players as a group and fought for one of the starting spots. The third-year player showed flashes of brightness towards the end of last year and defended four passes with a sack.
Morrow will join Vontaze Burfict and Tahir Whitehead as some of the best tacklers in the NFL. Morrow should step up and improve his game from only around 30 tackles to close to 90 with this group of players.
Not only does Morrow have help on the linebacker corps, but he has some of the best tacklers in the NFL in the secondary too with Joyner and Abrams, both who will help Morrow be aggressive in his pursuits. The 4-3 defense also plays to most of the defensive player’s strengths such as Joyner and Abrams, where the safeties can focus on coverage and not being an extra linebacker.
What’s also important is having a full offseason and season to develop pass-rushing skills from the weak linebacker position, a valuable asset to any defense. If you can rush four defensive linemen and a linebacker in a 4-3 then have Joyner play man-to-man on a tight-end, that’s a dangerous combination.
Miller and Morrow have every opportunity to become better players than they were last year, mainly due to the more talent they can practice against and the opposing team can focus on other areas now.