We are now making the transition from the skill players to those who do the dirty work. The last of the skill positions are the tight ends. Although some are more for blocking purposes. Or they're supposed to be. The best ones do both. Here is what the tight end position currently looks like for the Raiders:
Jeron Mastrud - 12 starts, 6 catches, 88 yards, 0 TD's
Mychal Rivera - 3 starts, 38 catches, 407 yards, 4 TD's
Nick Kasa - 1 start, 1 catch, 9 yards, 1 TD
David Ausberry - Placed on IR prior to the season
When the player who gets the most starts for your team has all of six catches, you have problems. Jeron Mastrud had spent the previous three seasons with the Dolphins where he had a total of one catch in his career. So, yeah, he's a blocking tight end. That's fine but not as a starter. The starter should be a receiving threat.
Mychal Rivera is very much a receiving threat. His play is the only saving grace for this unit. The problem is, he is an awful blocker. If he can improve his blocking, he can be a great asset to this team. He would need to bulk up a little bit which runs the risk of compromising his speed.
Not much to say about Kasa. He didn't hardly see the field and when he did, no one saw him. His one catch was a nine-yard touchdown in the season finale. He converted to tight end late in his college career so there is still a lot of growth potential with him but potential doesn't always pan out. The Raiders hope he can at least be a serviceable blocking tight end.
Speaking of vast potential that has yet to be fully realized, David Ausberry. He was the presumed starter this season until he went out with an injury that had him lost for the season. This was supposed to be the year he came out of the shadows and proved he was starter material. He had bulked up tremendously and the former receiver didn't appear to have lost much in the way of speed. He'll be given one more chance to show he can perform on this level.
Team need: Moderate
There is too much potential at this position. And I mean that in the worst possible way. Potential is dangerous. The Raiders waited until the sixth round to address the gaping need at the position last year when they chose Kasa and Rivera and it's hard to expect a whole lot from late round rookies. Former seventh round project Ausberry has been teasing us with his potential for three years now. Think what the addition of a proven, play making veteran or a mid to high drafted player could add to this unit. Infuse a proven performer and let the other three fight for the final two spots. Remember when Zach Miller was lighting it up for the Raiders as their leading receiver? That was three years ago. It might just be too risky to go into yet another season without a known commodity at tight end. Or let it ride and hope they pan out.