Oakland Raiders Position Grades: Pre-Training Camp

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May 8, 2015; Alameda, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders tight ends coach Bobby Johnson (right) with tight ends Terrell Pinson (44), Gabe Holmes (82) and Clive Walford (88) at rookie minicamp at the Raiders practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Tight End

  • Starter: Clive Walford
  • Backup: Mychal Rivera
  • Backup: Lee Smith
  • Honorary Mention: Marcel Reece

Clive Walford is shaping up to be a well rounded, dual threat tight end. Something every team in the NFL wants, but very few have. Most teams have a tandem like Rivera and Smith; a receiving TE and a blocking TE.

In college, Walford showed big play ability in the seam, along with great athletic ability to make the tough catch, as well as on the field speed to separate himself from defenders after the catch.

I am a supporter of Rivera. I don’t think his game has peaked yet, and in a year or two when it does I think he’s got potential to be an explosive playmaker in the receiving game. He will still see a fair number of snaps this season, but not nearly as many as last year.

The presence of Walford will cut into Rivera’s snap count, as well as the lack of a fullback in Bill Musgrave’s offense. With Reece lining up as an H-Back, there could be a number of plays where Reese is lining up in place of Rivera, just off the line a bit more. In an up tempo offense, the H-Back will often double as the second tight end in a 2TE set, keeping Rivera on the bench through long stretches of time during an offensive possession.

Lee Smith is a guy I’m very excited about. He doesn’t have the glory job, he’s got the dirty job. He’s a blocking TE, and he’s darn good at it. He should be seeing a lot of time on obvious run downs, and a part of the short yardage crew. Smith is actually a decent enough receiving option if need be, especially if they are trying to catch the defense off guard. Remember, Derek Carr isn’t afraid to throw to an unconventional receiver…remember Donald Penn’s spectacular catch last year?


I’d probably give this group a B, but Walford is just too untested at this point, and the lack of versatility in the depth. Marcel Reece could end up being a solid contributor to the offense, and if he does it’ll certainly cut into the production of the tight ends in terms of yardage, but between Smith and Walford this group should be very solid in the blocking game.

Next: Raiders Position Grades: Offensive Line