Raider Nation may have mellowed a little overnight, but the team’s first round selection of UCLA offensive tackle Kolton Miller is still polarizing. Putting the anger and hysteria aside, do fans have a point? Or is their reaction an overreaction?
The only question Raider Nation needs to ask itself as the team heads into Day 2 of the 2018 NFL Draft is this: who do you trust?
Yesterday’s selection of UCLA’s Kolton Miller in the first round is still reverberating through the madness that is Raiders fandom. Loyal to the end, emotional, passionate, angry, and proud, Raider Nation reacted strongly after yesterday’s pick. The narrative consistent: why are they picking an offensive lineman in the first round when we have such great needs on defense?
Let’s explore that question and what’s at play here.
A fan’s job is simple: cheer on your team. Sure, there’s the loyalty angle, the “ride or die” attitude, and the passion and love for the Silver and Black. The word “fan” is, as one of my co-hosts on our CBS Sports Radio Las Vegas show Silver and Black Today (Sunday’s from 8-10am) Matt Gutierrez so often reminds me, is short for fanatic. That’s an accurate representation of the folks that reside in Raider Nation. They’re fanatical to the bone.
So as fans, a pick like Miller in the first round can be a let down. They want sexy. They want one of those guys who gets all the pub. They want the guy who has blazing speed at a skill position. They don’t want a trench guy. It doesn’t matter how good he is or isn’t – no one gets really jazzed about offensive lineman.
That’s why I am not surprised by the reaction to general manager Reggie McKenzie drafting Miller. The pick did catch me off guard, I will admit. With Minkah Fitzpatrick still available, I thought that’s where they’d go. I’m just a writer and radio host, what do I know?
That’s why the question on whether it was a good selection or not comes down to whether or not you trust McKenzie and Gruden or not. It’s that simple.
By the strong reaction from fans and media alike, many clearly don’t trust them. They call the pick a “mistake” and use more graphic words you won’t find in this space. It seems as though the euphoria which materialized after Gruden’s return to Oakland has given way to the feelings of the last 15 years. Anger, frustration, and despair.
By most accounts coming in, Miller was one of the top offensive tackles in the draft. Some publications had him ranked sixth, others had him as high as two. Several draft experts talked about his stock rising as draft day approached. He had a good combine and interviewed well with teams. McKenzie and Gruden were impressed enough to take him. We’ll have a full analysis of Miller and the other Raiders draft picks in the coming days.
Many woke up today and were a little less emotional and more level headed. Some in Raider Nation are coming around to why it was a good pick. They see the acquisition of speedy but troubled wide receiver Martavis Bryant as a big get. They might have some doubts, but they trust in the team and its coaching staff when it comes to the pick. Whether or not Miller pans out will take time to know. He needs a healthy dose of development to make it as a starter in the NFL to be certain.
Raiders fans should not fret. You either trust the GM and coach to pick the best player for their needs, who also helps get them closer to the end goal of a championship, or you don’t. Simple equation.
Twitter GM’s aside, whether or not the Raiders have a draft to make them a championship contender is unknown. There’s still two more days.
We’ll see after Saturday if McKenzie and Gruden win over the doubters.
Do you trust GM Reggie McKenzie and Head Coach Jon Gruden when it comes to overall roster and draft decisions?
— SilverBlack2Day (@SilverBlack2Day) April 27, 2018