The Oakland Raiders lost their top pass-catcher this offseason when tight end Brandon Myers signed with the New York Giants. With little to no NFL experience behind him on the depth chart, his departure created one of the biggest holes on the roster.
As the Raiders prepare for their second preseason game, they find themselves with a group of inexperienced tight ends, and none of whom has distinguished himself from the group. The Raiders have five tight ends competing for playing time. Third-year players Richard Gordon and David Ausberry, rookies Nick Kasa and Mychal Rivera and fourth year free agent Jeron Mastrud.
Both Gordon and Mastrud are primarily blocking tight ends who are not much of a threat in the passing game. Meanwhile, Rivera and Ausberry are the exact opposite, both excelling in the passing game while struggling to find consistency as blockers. Kasa, a former defensive end, is a project who’s still learning the position.
But while no one has established himself as a clear starter for the Raiders, that may not be a terrible thing. All these guys have the ability to contribute and they each have rather unique talents that sets them apart from the others. Without a solid number one, the next best thing is a group of guys who, when put in a rotation, can accomplish all the needs of the tight end position.
Do not be surprised if the Raiders end up keeping four or even all five of these guys on the 53-man roster. In 2011, the Green Bay Packers, where Reggie McKenzie worked at the time, had five tight ends at different points during the season. Given the limited assets currently on the Raiders roster, they have to get as much as they can out of each position in any way they can.
This is entirely a hunch, but I would not be surprised to see the Raiders use a lot of two tight end sets in order to get the most out of their tight end position and have both a passing and blocking threat on the field at the same time.