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2016 Raiders depth chart breakdown, 53-man roster projection, position battle: Tight end

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The fourth edition in this series covers the tight ends as we fill out our projected Raiders 53-man roster.

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Wide receive and tight end were both upgraded prior to last season, both in free agency and the draft. Those acquisitions still lead their respective units, giving the offense some consistency and reliability it hadn't had in many years.

Starters

Clive Walford - 2nd year
Lee Smith - 5th year

Entering his second season with the team, Walford looks poised to be a big part of the team's offense. Even though he has been out all offseason after injuring his knee in an ATV accident, he's expected back for training camp. He is considered a complete tight end who can block and catch and began to show his potential late last season. Smith was signed last offseason as the team's blocking tight end. That's what he does best and sees a lot of snaps because of it.

Reserves

Mychal Rivera - 4th year

Rivera was once the team's starting tight end; mostly by default. There were some rumors he was being shopped prior to the draft, but he remains with the team entering the final year of his rookie contract.

Position battle

Mychal Rivera vs Gabe Holmes

Last season Rivera had one of the lowest yards per catch on the team. He has good hands but is a liability as a blocker. Holmes is a former basketball player who was signed last offseason as an undrafted free agent out of Purdue. He was a raw talent, but the team was high on his potential in camp. Ultimately he landed on the practice squad, but later in the season the team called him up to the active roster to ensure another team couldn't sign him away. He will be looking to take another step forward in training camp and attempting to beat out Rivera for the third tight end job.

Bubble watch

Gabe Holmes - 2nd year

It is entirely possible the team could carry four tight ends just as they did late last season. Rivera could be used as more of an H-back type especially in the first three games with Marcel Reece suspended. That could open the door for Holmes to make the opening day roster and you never know what could happen in those first three weeks. If he shows well, they could keep him and dump Rivera or decide to keep both and dump someone else.

The rest

Colton Underwood - 1st year
Ryan O'Malley - Rookie (UDFA)

53-man roster projection (15/53)

Quarterbacks (3)

Derek Carr
Matt McGloin
Connor Cook

Running backs (4)

Latavius Murray
DeAndre Washington
Jamize Olawale
Taiwan Jones

Wide receivers (5)

Amari Cooper
Michael Crabtree
Seth Roberts
Andre Holmes
Joe Hansley

Tight end (3)

Clive Walford
Lee Smith
Mychal Rivera

Bubble watch

RB Roy Helu Jr
TE Gabe Holmes

Practice squad (3/10)

RB Jalen Richard
WR Max McCaffrey
WR Jaydon Mickens