With all the talent the Raiders have at wide receiver you could argue that they don’t even need a tight end. Between Marcel Reece and the multitude of weapons Oakland can use as receivers out of the backfield it stands to reason that the Raider tight ends need only be blockers.
Brandon Myers and Richard Gordon are blockers by trade who just so happen to catch an occasional pass. Same could be said for the man they’re trying to replace, Kevin Boss. In fact the only tight end that can even be thought of as a threat in the passing game is David Ausberry, the project receiver learning a new position in the pros.
With the way the tight end position has evolved it would appear as if the Raiders are rolling back the clock. While most franchises are looking for receivers that can occasionally block the Raiders are stocked with blockers that occasionally catch.
The good news for the Raiders is that Carson Palmer is no Jason Campbell. JC was a check down champion that needed a reliable receiver at tight end. Palmer is more of a downfield risk taker that is more likely to try and squeeze one into a narrow window 30 yards away than he is to dump one off to a big body 8 yards in front of him.
That’s not to say one approach is better than the other. Palmer’s style is just more suited to what this current roster consists of.
The real concern is the amount of experience and depth the Raiders have at the position, which at this point is pretty much none at all.
Myers is the senior member of the unit and he has just 32 catches in 3 years to his name half of which came in 2011. Myers was never known as a receiver coming out of Iowa and his career best of 9.4 yards per catch says not much has changed in the pros.
Both Ausberry and Gordon are works in progress each with potential yet neither with any real game experience. Gordon saw the most action as a rookie playing in a multitude of packages including making a start at fullback. He’s a bruising blocker but offers almost nothing as a receiver.
Ausberry is the wildcard blessed with an athletic skill set that has some seeing another Antonio Gates type talent hitting the AFC West. But that is all wishful thinking at this point. He’s the best receiving option of Oakland’s tight ends but still has to make plenty of progress in other areas before he can be an every down player.
The only other tight end currently listed on the Raiders roster is Boise State UFA Kyle Efaw. He could get a look on the practice squad but barring a miracle we’re likely looking at the aforementioned three headed monster being Oakland’s tight end all rolled into one.
For Reggie McKenzie this is all part of the process. He knows his team is thin in some key areas. That’s just the way it’s going to be until things are all sorted out. So, if you asked McKenzie if he feels his team is too thin at tight end he’d likely say ‘yes’ and remind you the same goes for right tackle, cornerback, linebacker and a few other positions at the moment. That’s just the way it is. You take the field with the team you have and not the one you want.