With the departure of tight end Brandon Myers in free agency the Oakland Raiders’ tight end position is a big question mark heading into training camp. sixth round pick Nick Kasa has a shot at becoming the starting tight end this season, but he will have to fight off a few competitors in training camp. College wide receiver David Ausberry is the favorite to win the job, but his lack of blocking skills might keep him off the field. Fellow rookie Mychal Rivera has all the tools to succeed, but he is not spectacular in blocking or receiving. Richard Gordon is a good run blocker, but he has yet to show he can become a threat in the passing game.
The 6’6 265 pound Kasa would bring a degree of toughness to the Raiders offense that they were lacking last year. Kasa was a defensive lineman during his first two years of college but switched to tight end his junior year. While he never became much of a receiving threat his athleticism bodes well for him to become one down the line.
Now that the Raiders will be reverting back to a power running scheme, they will need a tight end that can create holes for Darren McFadden and the running game. Last year Brandon Myers was a revelation in the passing game, but he was also considered the worst run blocking tight end in the NFL. Myers’ weakness in run blocking was one of the reasons why Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie did not even offer him a contract this offseason. Kasa and Gordon will be the top run blocking tight ends on the team, and they will be competing with each other for a roster spot this season.
With unproven Matt Flynn likely to become the starting quarterback, expect the Raiders to rely on their running game and short passes during the beginning of the season. While Kasa would help the running game immensely he would need to show that he can be a reliable target before he sees the field on Sundays. As of right now it looks like Ausberry or Rivera would be the favorites to win the starting tight end job, but don’t count out Nick Kasa to become the starter on day one of the season.
Jorge Contreras is an Oakland Raiders writer for RantSports.com. Follow Jorge on Twitter @jraycontreras