The New England Patriots suffered considerable personnel losses during this year’s free agency period, with the biggest – both literally and figuratively – being starting left tackle Nate Solder: The veteran signed a four-year, $62 million contract with the New York Giants. Solder's departure creates a hole on Tom Brady's blindside for which the team has no clear-cut in-house option to fill at the moment.
While both LaAdrian Waddle and 2017 third-round draft pick Antonio Garcia are potential replacements for Solder, neither player is currently a safe bet to adequately fill his shoes. The team might therefore opt to look at spending one of its two first-round selections to bring a long-term solution at the left tackle spot on board. One of the potential targets could be UCLA offensive tackle Kolton Miller.
And according to the Boston Globe's Ben Volin, Miller is in New England to take a pre-draft visit with the team. Each club is allowed to bring in 30 players during the evaluation process leading up to the draft, and the former UCLA starting tackle is the 13th reported prospect to have a visit with the Patriots.
Miller is an intriguing player at offensive tackle due to his elite blend of size and athletic abilities – similar to what the aforementioned Solder brought to the table. At the scouting combine in March, the 22-year old was measured at 6’8, 309 lbs and performed well during workouts, running a 4.95 40-yard dash (third-best among offensive linemen), 7.34 three-cone drill (third-best) and led all linemen with a 10’1 broad jump.
During his three non-redshirt collegiate seasons, Miller appeared in 30 games and by the 2017 season earned the Bruins’ starting left tackle role. Starting all 13 contests during his final collegiate seasons, the California native earned second-team All-Pac 12 honors as a standout blocker in both the running and the passing game. A technically sound and athletically impressive player, Miller would be a quality pickup in the late first round.
Of course, a lot depends on how the team views Garcia. If the Patriots think that the second-year man, who missed all of last season because of blood clots in his lungs, is able to earn a starting role as the team's new left tackle, they might not feel the need to invest a first-round pick in a player like Miller.
Miller is not the only player to pay a visit to the Patriots. According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the team is also hosting USC running back Ronald Jones. The 20-year old is coming off a highly productive three years with the Trojans: Playing in 39 games for the team, Jones averaged nearly 93 rushing yards per contest while also scoring a total of 39 rushing touchdowns.
In New England, 5'11, 205 back, who is projected to become a day two selection later this month, would compete primarily against Mike Gillislee and Jeremy Hill for practice snaps and playing time.