August 30, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders tight end Mychal Rivera (81) is tackled by Arizona Cardinals strong safety Tony Jefferson (22), inside linebacker Kevin Minter (51), and free safety Rashad Johnson (26) during the first quarter in a preseason NFL football game at O.co Coliseum. The Cardinals defeated the Raiders 30-23. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
No. 1: Lee Smith
No. 2: Mychal Rivera
No. 3: Clive Walford
H-Back: Marcel Reece
According to Raiders.com, free agent addition Lee Smith is listed as the team’s No. 1 tight end as of September 1, the correct decision for Del Rio and his coaching staff.
Smith has proven to be a solid blocker in the run game, as he is often seen driving defenders off the line of scrimmage and playing to the echo of the whistle. With Menelik Watson officially on the IR, Smith should see a good amount of playing time in order to help the right side of the offensive line in both when run blocking and when he is kept in on pass protection.
Due to offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave’s plan to primarily use a two tight end set, Mychal Rivera should also be on the field constantly. Now entering his third season in the NFL, Rivera has turned into a relatively reliable receiving target for Carr and continues to prove that he can make plays in the starting lineup.
Though the excitement surrounding third-round pick Clive Walford is justified, he has simply not seen enough of the field this offseason due to injury. The competition should continue between Walford and Rivera throughout the regular season, but expect to see a lot more Rivera in the upcoming weeks.
Next: Oakland Raiders Roster Projections: Offensive Line