For what it's worth, this will be an ongoing series of what I think needs to happen, or what I think will happen. For what I think needs to happen, I will obviously put out who, what and when I see as the best moves that are available at the time; for what I think will happen, it will be what I see as the moves that the Raiders will make, although I may or may not agree with them. So, let's get started with this installment, tight end...
A position that we may not be settled in, because we have young guys that have shown some promise, but none that have done all that much as yet. While Ausberry looked like he was ready to make his mark, he is still an unknown since he really hasn't played that much in games that count. Rivera showed promise, but also that he needs plenty of work on his blocking. Mastrud can block, but is not exactly a threat as a receiver, and Kasa saw very little action as a developmental player.
Mastrud: A guy who is really more of a TE2 than a true starter, because he is mostly a blocker that has decent hands, but offers no speed. That doesn't mean that he doesn't have value, but again, he is more of a TE2 than a TE1. With our glut of young players with upside but not production, I don't see him returning. His initial signing I viewed as more precautionary than anything else, and turned out to be prescient, but he just doesn't look 'necessary'.
Ausberry: Something of a polar opposite of Mastrud, in that he is a player that offers hands and speed, is a threat with the ball, but not a great blocker. The problem is that he just hasn't had many snaps when it counts; the assumption is that since he won the job before getting hurt that he can fill the position, but the reality is something of a question mark. If he can, the position is settled considerably; if not, then the position is neutral, and could be a liability until/unless we see reliable, consistent play from others.
Rivera: An intriguing rookie campaign that flashed glimpses of capability, but also highlighted how much more work needs to be done. Rivera has shown that he can catch the ball and that he could be a weapon, but he also showed that he is not ready for every down action, since unlike Ausberry, whose blocking is adequate, Rivera's blocking is definitely sub-par. Until/unless he improves in this area, I don't think he will be more than a rotational player, other than in emergencies, although his ceiling is higher than that.
Kasa: Drafted with the expectation of being a project, he was and still is just that. He has a tantalizing combination of size and speed for the position. I will admit that I was not sold on the pick, and am still ambivalent; I simply thought that with so many other needs, projects could wait until we were more settled overall. It looks like he is on pace, but that means it will be another year or two before we know what we really have; it may be worth the wait, it may have been a roster spot that could have been better used. Time will tell. Assuming that we carry three tight ends next year, he will likely be the third, and therefore on the hot seat, battling for that last spot. I imagine that his continued progression, or lack thereof, will determine his roster spot.
Leonhardt: Signed recently to a reserve/future contract, he comes back after being signed last offseason, and later released. Possibly an early camp body with enough potential for the team to consider for the practice squad if he doesn't stick on the roster again, because of how raw he is, but with nice measureables.
Although this position is relatively unsettled compared to most of the offense, I think that the team will not make any major moves to address it, letting Ausberry prove himself, with Rivera, Kasa, or some other combination sticking as backups. If there is a major injury, signing a late free agent shouldn't put the team in any worse shape at the position than they were last year, and could still possibly be better if Rivera and Kasa improve from their rookie campaigns.