It's official, the Raiders have their blocking tight end. His name is Lee Smith and he comes over from the Bills where he spent the last four seasons. The 6-6, 269-pound tight end signs with the Raiders on a 3-year, $9 million deal.
That deal is a bit rich and bringing him on may not be the blockbuster fans were hopding for, but Smith is considered one of the better blocking tight ends in the NFL. In 2013 he was top five in both pass and run blocking according to Pro Football Focus grading. He slipped a little bit in 2014 in those grades but still received positive marks in both areas.
His father is former NFL star, Daryle Smith who spent six seasons in the NFL with the Cowboys (1987-88), Browns (89), and Eagles (90-92). Lee originally enrolled at his father's (and Reggie McKenzie's) alma mater of Tennessee but a DUI arrest forced him to transfer to Marshall University. They're also from Knoxville Tennessee which is McKenzie's home town.
The former 5th round pick was drafted by the Patriots and didn't make the team out of camp. The Bills signed him off waivers and he has spent all four years of his career in Buffalo.
Here is what Brian Galliford from Buffalo Rumblings had to say about Smith:
Smith is a solid, yet not spectacular, run blocker that offers little in the way of open-field athleticism as a receiver. He's a highly one-dimensional player, and that limits his playing time. It's sort of mind-boggling to me that he got a contract that'll pay him $3 million per year, but that shouldn't overshadow the fact that he's a pretty good niche football player.
If you're a hockey fan, Smith is also the guy on the team that is more than happy to take on the role of goon; that is, you'll notice that he's the guy blocking through the whistle and needling guys between plays, getting under their skin. It's pretty amusing to watch - until he picks up a penalty for it.