Starters: Clive Walford, Lee Smith
Depth: Gabe Holmes
Free agent: Mychal Rivera
Walford was the team’s third round pick in 2015. He came with high hopes, but due to offseason injuries, he has had slow starts each season. Last year he was expected to make a step forward in his progress that never happened. The Raiders haven’t given up on their hopes that he can live up to expectations.
Smith was lost for the season early in 2016. He had a strong 2015 season after signing a free agent deal to be the team’s blocking tight end. Without him, the team had to use a tackle eligible more than they would have liked.
Holmes is entering his third year in the NFL. Though you’d never know it outside of those who follow the Raiders. He went undrafted in 2015 as a raw prospect out of Purdue and spent most of his rookie season on the practice squad. The team likes his potential, but an injury in the preseason landed him on injured reserve all last season.
Since becoming a 6th round pick in 2013, Rivera has never been expected to be the starter, but keeps finding his way into the lineup and earning targets in the offense. Though he has proven himself as a legitimate receiving threat, he is mostly one-dimensional. I don’t expect the Raiders will make him a priority to re-sign, giving him the opportunity to find a long term deal elsewhere.
Condition: Touch and go
This position was a difficult evaluation. It could easily be considered stable. But at this point, we just don’t know. Adding a weapon in the form of a veteran free agent could take the offense to another level. But if they held onto Rivera to compete with Holmes to go with Walford and Smith, that’s not a bad group.