When the Oakland Raiders kick off training camp on July 25, third-year tight end David Ausberry will get the first crack at winning the starting job. Luckily for him, the competition at the position is subpar to say the least.
Ausberry will face immediate competition from fellow veteran Richard Gordon and rookies Nick Kasa and Mychal Rivera for the right to be the Raiders’ starting tight end. While the position group is extremely thin in terms of starting-caliber talent, the close competition should help Oakland make sure the best player available is atop the depth chart come Week 1.
At this point, Ausberry appears to be the top option to start for the Raiders. A converted wide receiver who spent his entire collegiate career struggling to live up to his billing as a top recruit, the USC product has only nine catches to his credit in two seasons with the Raiders. Still, the potential that he offers as an explosive athlete at tight end could land him a significant role in the passing game.
Assuming he stays atop the depth chart though training camp, Ausberry will attempt to imitate the rise to prominence that Brandon Myers enjoyed in Oakland in 2012 before leaving via free agency this offseason. The Raiders’ 2009 sixth-round pick, Myers burst onto the scene last season with 79 receptions, 806 yards and four touchdowns. With Myers out of the picture, Ausberry has the opportunity to recreate his success.
The likely scenario will have the Raiders using a mix of their four capable tight ends in a role-specific rotation, playing each player in certain situations based on their strengths. Ausberry is the best receiving threat of the bunch, so he should see at least a handful of targets this season.
Ausberry put in his time with the Raiders to be in this position. While it’s more due to the lack of talent at the position, the third-year tight end should enjoy a prominent role in the Oakland passing attack in 2013.