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Comparing 2014 Raiders to past decade: Tight end

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Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

The tight end position for the Raiders over the past ten years is pretty top heavy. It's basically the undisputed best of the bunch and then the rest. And if you think of that positively, to be the best of the rest is an accomplishment. And at least, unlike some other positions thus far, it isn't all a nightmare trip down memory lane.

1. Zach Miller (2007-10)

Zach Miller was the best tight end the Raiders had seen since Todd Christensen. Not only was he the first Raiders tight end to lead the team in receiving since Christensen, but he and Christensen are the only Raiders tight ends to do it over three straight seasons. Funny thing is, the third of those seasons (2010) was the one he had the lowest numbers (685 yards) and yet that was the season he made the Pro Bowl. Go figure. The 2007 second round pick had 44 catches for 444 yards as a rookie (seriously 44 for 444), then averaged over 750 yards per season in the following three seasons. He gave up the spotlight in the offense to head to Seattle where he now has a Super Bowl ring. Seems like a fair tradeoff.

2. David Ausberry/Mychal Rivera (2014)

Ausberry is slated as the starter just as he was last season before being lost to a shoulder injury. What Ausberry showed in camp last year that earned him the starting job was a sudden grasp of his assignments and blocking. We have long known he can catch - he is a former wide receiver, after all. He was poised to show he was the complete package. Even with him as the starter, Rivera will see the ball a good amount as well. Matt Schaub likes to use his tight ends and Greg Olson makes use of them a great deal in his offensive schemes. With Ausberry's complete game, Rivera's receiving skills, and a third blocking tight end in the mix, there could be some fine play at tight end this season.

3. Brandon Myers (2012)

Myers had shocking numbers that season that came literally out of nowhere. After sitting behind Zach Miller for two seasons, then Kevin Boss for a season, the starting job just kind of a fell in his lap as the last man standing on a dismantled team. He caught 79 passes for 806 yards with four touchdowns that season as a relief valve for Carson Palmer during a season in which Palmer needed much relief. The running game was going nowhere and his wide receivers were young and unreliable. Myers was in the right place at the right time. He would be just below Miller based on his numbers but his blocking was atrocious and he was more of a product of the (lack of) other options on offense that season. Even still, he came up big when he was the next man up. And he used it to cash in as a free agent.

4. Doug Jolley (2004)

Back in the days of Kerry Collins, the tight end was virtually a forgotten man in the offense. Collins had a big arm and was always looking downfield at the wide receivers. Jolley was a dependable option, though his overall numbers might not bear that out (27 catches for 313 yards). Following this season, he was traded with a second round pick to the Jets to allow the Raiders to jump into the first round of the 2005 draft to grab speedy cornerback Fabian Washington.

5. Jeron Mastrud/Mychal Rivera (2013)

Speaking of being in the right place at the right time... Rivera was not expected to be the Raiders starting tight end in 2013. But after David Ausberry went down with a shoulder injury in preseason, the job fell to him. Mastrud actually started most of the season because he is a more sound all-around tight end. Though he was never a big receiving threat, so it was up to Rivera take that role. That should tell you how hard up the Raiders were for a tight end. Rivera showed the Raiders had a nice find grabbing him in the sixth round. He caught 38 passes for 407 yards and 4 touchdowns.

6. Kevin Boss (2011)

Pretty much a failed signing by the Raiders. He had ok numbers that season with 28 catches for 368 yards and three touchdowns. But more was expected in that offense. Boss spent just one season with the team before being cut for salary cap reasons and injury concerns. He played two more games in the NFL in Kansas City in 2012 and is now out of the league.

7. Courtney Anderson (2005-06)

Though he lands at the bottom of this list, Anderson wasn't terrible. First he had Kerry Collins looking past him to the wide receivers in 2005 and he was stuck in a terrible offense in 2006. He caught 24 passes for 303 yards in '05 and had 25 catches for 285 yards in '06. Randal Williams moved to tight end from wide receiver in '06 and had 28 catches for 293 yards that season - three catches for 8 yards more than Anderson. In the following draft, the Raiders addressed the tight end position by making Zach Miller their second round pick.