Oakland Raiders: Ranking The AFC West By Position Group – Tight Ends

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 20: Tight end Clive Walford
OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 20: Tight end Clive Walford /
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Oakland Raiders
ARLINGTON, TX – JANUARY 15: Jared Cook /

3. Oakland Raiders

Oakland’s tight end situation can be summed up in one word – potential. This unit has the potential to be very, very good. But to do that, the tight ends must live up to their potential – this applies mainly to Clive Walford, who’s apparently been put on notice by the acquisition of Jared Cook.

To be fair, part of the problem with Oakland’s tight end group in recent seasons has been a lack of opportunity. Former OC Bill Musgrave didn’t do much to utilize or fully maximize the abilities of a talented tight end group.

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Last season, between Oakland’s three primary tight ends – Clive Walford, Mychal Rivera, and Lee Smith – got a combined total of 83 targets. 83. Walford led the way with 52, Rivera with 25, and Smith with six. They turned those into 57 receptions for 580 yards and four touchdowns.

That’s not a lot of opportunity for a group that showed the ability to be effective. Walford had a 64 percent completion rate, Rivera was at 72 percent, and Smith was at 100 percent – though, to be fair, Smith is the primary blocking tight end, rather than a pass catcher.

The Raiders brought Cook in this offseason to hopefully add a little depth and dimension to the tight ends group. In Cook and Walford, the Raiders now have to big, strong guys who are fast enough to stretch the field a bit and big enough to be very viable targets down in the red zone.

Cook and Walford had very similar stat lines last season – but to be fair, Cook is likely a little more dynamic than Rivera.

The hope is that new OC Todd Downing can find ways to utilize his tight ends more than his predecessor. That he can find ways to exploit their talents and yes, maximize their potential. There’s that word again.

But until Oakland’s tight ends group becomes a legitimate threat opposing defenses have to account for, that explosive dynamic will simply remain untapped potential.