It’s never easing moving your way up NFL depth charts as a sixth-round draft pick, but that is exactly what Mychal Rivera has done with the Oakland Raiders.
Rivera, the 184th pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, is beginning to make a name for himself in just his first season in the league. The 6-foot 3-inch, 242-pound tight end caught two passes in his NFL debut for a total of 26 yards and has the potential to be a key part of the Raiders’ offense for years to come.
The promising rookie has looked good thus far, and NFL.com said the following about Rivera: “Solid move-the-chains receiver with the required toughness for the position. Good hands and flexibility to bring in passes on the run and continue over the middle or downfield. Extends his arms, and catches the ball off his frame. Has strider’s speed to threaten the seam. Runs tough and will stiff-arm oncoming defenders after the catch. Flashes athleticism to leap defenders and flexibility to avoid linebackers on crossers. Gives good effort as an in-line blocker, moves his feet, extends his strong arms, and usually gets his hands on his target’s numbers. Willing to sustain throughout the play against ends or linebackers, also against second-level targets from a stand-up position. Also does his job when lined up as a lead blocker in the backfield.”
In fact, Rivera has impressed his new team so much that quarterback Terrelle Pryor even chimed in about the rookie tight end.
Pryor said that he knows “it sounds bad” but Rivera reminds him of former Patriots star tight end Aaron Hernandez. “He’s fast, a smart route runner, has quick feet and good hands,” Pryor said.
Before Hernandez was arrested and thrown out of the NFL, he was one of the most prolific tight ends in the league. In just three seasons with New England, Hernandez racked up nearly 2,000 receiving yards, 175 receptions, and 18 touchdowns. Pryor ultimately gave Rivera a huge compliment by comparing the rookie’s football game to Hernandez’s.
The Raiders are in a rebuilding mode right now and are looking for their young talent to step up and contribute. Rivera has the potential to be the tight end of the future for the Raiders and fans should expect some big games from him throughout this season. His efficient blocking and superb hands have made him a hot commodity in Oakland and he has a bright future in the NFL.
And whether you know the Raiders’ rookie tight end because of his actor/singer sister Naya Rivera or because of his football skills, prepare yourself to see him making some big plays for the Raiders for years to come.