With the departure of Brandon Myers during free agency, the Oakland Raiders tight end position became the team’s biggest question mark.
The Raiders have promising tight end David Ausberry penciled in as the starter going into training camp and run blocking specialist Richard Gordon as a backup. However, Reggie McKenzie took Mychal Rivera and Nick Kasa in this year’s NFL draft. All four of them will battle it out for the starting tight end position in Napa.
The most promising player of the group is probably Ausberry, who can make big plays every time he touches the ball. With wide receiver speed and a tight end’s body, Ausberry could put up similar numbers to Myers last year. The only issue with Ausberry is that he hasn’t shown that he can be an effective blocker, which wouldn’t work in a power run blocking scheme.
Seldom used tight end Gordon has been on the team just as long as Ausberry. Gordon and Ausberry are polar opposites in their skill sets, as Gordon is known more as a blocker than a receiver. If you were to combine the two tight ends together, you would have an all-pro tight end. Gordon’s only shot to start would be because his run blocking is far superior to the other three tight ends, which would help the Raiders’ running game.
Former Colorado tight end Nick Kasa was taken with the 172nd pick. The 6-foot-6, 265-pound Kasa would bring the ferociousness of a defensive player to the Raiders’ tight end position because of he used to play defensive line in college. At the NFL combine, Kasa showed good speed and strength, which shows he has all the natural ability to be a decent tight end in the NFL. Kasa would probably not be the starter for the Raiders offense in Week 1 because he is still learning the nuances of the tight end position.
McKenzie selected Mychal Rivera with the 184th pick in the draft. Unlike his rookie counterpart Kasa, Rivera has shown that he is a natural receiving tight end. His draft stock dropped because of slow 40-times for a smaller tight end. If Rivera were to show he can be an effective blocker, he would challenge Ausberry for the starting tight end position.
It is of utmost importance that the Raiders’ tight ends perform well this year for new quarterback Matt Flynn. We all know that a tight end is a quarterback’s security blanket, so whoever the starter is would need to be ready to make an impact immediately.
As of right now, Ausberry has the edge over Rivera as the starting tight end, with Kasa and Gordon battling for the final roster spot. The battle for the starting tight end will be one of the more interesting storylines in Napa.
Jorge Contreras is an Oakland Raiders writer for RantSports.com. Follow Jorge on Twitter @jraycontreras