The tight end position was one of the few positions of strength for the Raiders in 2018. Jared Cook and Lee Smith formed a great receiving and blocking combination. Derek Carrier caught the game winning pass against the Steelers in week 14. And Darren Waller had a few eye opening plays showcasing his incredible speed for the position.
However Jared Cook is expected to test the open market and in that scenario the Raiders could lose arguably their best player on offense. The Raiders need to pay attention to the TE class in order to hedge their bets in the event Cook doesn’t come back to Oakland. Here are a few Raiders fans can keep their eye on this weekend.
T.J. Hockenson, Iowa
Height: 6’4 3/4
Weight: 251 lbs
Hockenson is widely considered not only the best TE in the draft but one of a handful of slam dunk, surefire prospects available in the NFL draft. Hockenson doesn’t have any holes in his game with the ability to haul in contested catches, stretch defenses down the seam, and crush souls as a run blocker.
Hockenson would have to bomb the combine in order for him to be available at 24th overall. So Raiders fans, lets hope he trips during his 40 yard dash or gets into an altercation with NFL personnel during a drug test— that way the Raiders have a chance to pick him late in the first round.
Irv Smith Jr, Alabama
Height: 6’2 3/8
Weight: 242 lbs
Smith Jr. is not as big as Hockenson but he is a more dynamic athlete. Possessing supreme body control Smith is a threat at every level of the passing tree. His father, Irv Smith Sr. played in the NFL for 6 years so it is likely the Junior will handle himself with the utmost professionalism during the combine process.
The Alabama product had 710 yards receiving and 7 touchdowns during a National Championship run. Smith was the type of player to make clutch catches when his team needed it the most in 2018. The University of Alabama strength and conditioning staff will have made Smith into a combine machine and he has a chance have the best testing results when the day is over.
Kahale Warring, San Diego State
Height: 6’5 1/8
Weight: 252 lbs
Warring is a late round prospect for those of you who think a 1st or 2nd round TE is too rich for this Raiders team. Warring is the quintessential developmental prospect who didn’t produce much but was impressive when he did.
Warring is the same size as Jared Cook coming out of college. If he tests close to the athletic freak that is currently on the Raiders roster then his draft stock stands to gain some momentum heading into April.