Clive Walford has been somewhat underwhelming in his two seasons as a Raider. However, 2017 could finally be the season he emerges as a real threat.
The last time the Oakland Raiders had a tight end finish the season with more than 600 yards was 2012, back when Carson Palmer was taking snaps. Anyone know who it was? Well, if you guessed Brandon Myers, you would be correct. Yes, Myers was the last tight end to haul in more than 600 yards in a Raiders jersey. He led the team that season with 806 yards, but nobody has come close since. So why can Clive Walford challenge that narrative?
To put it simply, he is finally showing the talent that the Raiders were hoping for when they took him in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Coming out of the University of Miami, Walford looked to be a mid-round steal if he could translate his game at the professional level. Unfortunately, through his first two seasons, he wasn’t able to do that.
In his rookie season, Walford caught 28 passes for 329 yards. I won’t fault him for a lack of production as he didn’t get as many targets as some of the other offensive players. Also, he missed a portion of training camp due to a hamstring issue. Despite, Walford showed flashes of his potential and left fans anxious to see what he could bring in his second season.
Well, us fans would have to wait another season to truly see that as an ATV injury led to Walford missing another chunk of camp. He never really looked the same last season after that injury he sustained to his knee. Perhaps he never fully healed and it lingered throughout the season, or maybe he just regressed due to unrelated reasons. Regardless, Walford caught 33 passes for 359 yards, slightly better than his rookie season.
This offseason has been the opposite of the previous two. Walford has been healthy, and clearly has benefitted from a full offseason of training and building chemistry with Derek Carr. This is exactly the reason that Walford can truly take off this season. He does have the edge over newcomer Jared Cook when it comes to team chemistry and understanding the offense, as he has two years under his belt.
More from Just Blog Baby
- Raiders news: Free agent TE Foster Moreau diagnosed with cancer
- Order your Jimmy Garoppolo Las Vegas Raiders gear now
- Las Vegas Raiders: 2023 NFL Draft will make-or-break David Ziegler Era
- Raiders news: Jimmy Garoppolo offered a different kind of deal
- Raiders 2023 NFL Draft: Trading down for an elite DT on Day 1
Cook may be more talented and is clearly a more proven player than Walford, and is second on the depth chart behind Lee smith. But, Walford is younger and has more potential.
Walford should be trusted more in the passing game this season, especially with Cook alongside him. We could see the team using more two-tight end sets which with Cook and Walford alongside each other, could prove to be lethal.
We saw a glimpse of what could be this upcoming season in the first preseason game against the Cardinals.
It is unlikely that Walford has more targets, receptions, and yards than Cook. But a season of learning from a seasoned veteran could do wonders for him. He can surely improve on his high of 359 yards, shooting for 500 would be a good goal. He is much more of a long-term project in comparison to the short-term service Cook will provide.
Walford needs to show steady improvement, continuing to building upon what he has shown so far. In the next season or two, Walford could be a huge threat to opposing defenses. For now, he will see his share of targets. However, barring an unprecedented increase in productivity, will simply provide much-needed depth at a position the Raiders have been weak at before. His growth will be crucial if the Raiders want to turn their recent success into a dynasty.