I was pretty high on Clive Walford coming into this draft. I wasn't alone in that opinion from draft gurus and come the early third round, the Raiders made him their choice which sent the message they were pretty impressed with him as well.
Immediately following his drafting by the Raiders, Walford gave a description of himself that basically said he could do it all.
"I can high-point the ball. I'm a great pass catcher, I'm a great run blocker. I'm just a dual threat tight end." Said Walford.
He even went on to say he modeled his game after Rob Gronkowski.
That comparison was brought up to Reggie McKenzie and he chuckled a little bit, responding "What about Raymond Chester?"
The comparison to Chester, while seemingly more reasonable and perhaps more accurate, may not seem like much unless you realize the former Raiders great and 12-year NFL tight end was a four-time Pro Bowler, including his first three seasons in the league. That's a pretty strong comparison for the rookie to aspire.
When you hear McKenzie speak of Walford, you can see he has a very high opinion of him.
"We saw Clive as a complete tight end," said McKenzie following day 2 of the draft. "He's not only a receiver or a blocker type guy, he's a guy that's big and strong enough to pound it versus the D-linemen and he can flex out and run the routes and be that pass receiver. He's pretty much the total package when you're looking at a complete tight end. We didn't think he was one-dimensional."
Del Rio shares this opinion, even using the same exact words "complete tight end" to describe Walford in his post draft press conference.
"I think with the tight end, Clive [Walford], he's a complete tight end. Are you a blocking tight end or a receiving tight end? We think he's both. He can do both."
What the Raiders had in house was a tight end who could catch (Mychal Rivera) and one who could block (Lee Smith). Walford has the confidence of his coaches, and himself, to be that starting tight end who can play every down while Rivera and Smith could play their roles as receiver and blocker respectively.
Even with Walford himself saying he's "not looking to go start right away", and Reggie McKenzie saying of Walford "No one is above special teams", it appears from the outset that Walford has the inside track on being the Raiders starting tight end come the season.