With the 184th overall pick in the sixth round, the Oakland Raiders selected their second tight end in the round with Mychal Rivera, out of Tennessee. Rivera had a very productive year in 2012, totaling 36 receptions for 562 yards and five touchdowns. He averaged an impressive 15.6 yards per catch.
Oakland also drafted TE, Nick Kasa earlier in the sixth round. Where Kasa is a blocking TE, Rivera is a pass catcher. With the Volunteers, Rivera’s number was often called for throws over the middle, usually running the same 5-10 yard out/in route in excess. Rivera was a very versatile player for Tennessee, lining up outside, in the slot and even as an inline TE.
Strengths: Again, where Kasa blocks, Rivera can catch. His hands are sure, dropping balls should not be an issue with this player. It was impressive to see Rivera lineup in multiple spots and beat coverage when it was tight. He has the innate ability to catch passes despite pressure from defenders. He keeps his body square through tackles and it isn’t easy to bring him down. His route running ability, specifically in plays over the middle, is on point.
Weaknesses: I wasn’t able to find much tape on Rivera’s blocking ability, so that itself could mean he did little of it. Although NFL.com states he gives good effort as an in-line blocker, that doesn’t sell me on if he’ll be able to do that at the next level. He also possesses little as a vertical threat and struggles breaking away from coverage. Only performing 17 bench reps at the combine also dictates he needs to beef up a bit.
Analysis: I fully expect the Raiders to use a committee of TE’s in 2013. The Contra Costa Times projects Rivera as the teams starting TE come the start of the season. Honestly, the prognostication is realistic, but also overzealous. I see Rivera as the teams most complete TE in terms of blocking and catching ability. His blocking ability, to me, indicates that Oakland could keep up to three (or even four) TE’s on the roster (currently six) to mix in with running and passing situations.
How Rivera performs could very well lead to the release of either David Ausberry or Richard Gordon. Right now, no one is the dignified starting tight end on the Raiders roster.
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