ALAMEDA –- The University of Miami has a strong history of successful tight ends, especially in the recent past.
There’s Bubba Franks, Jeremy Shockey, Jimmy Graham, Greg Olsen and Kellen Winslow Jr., to name a few.
Clive Walford hopes that, in time, you can add his name to this list.
“We have a great line of them,” Walford said. “That’s what we do at Miami. We build tight ends.”
The Raiders certainly hope so. They selected him No. 68 overall, a pick where quick contributions are expected. He’s a versatile tight end with potential as an in-line blocker and a receiver.
That’s beneficial to a Raiders offense in need of like tight ends who can adjust within a personnel group. He proved that point during his senior season, when he had 44 catches for 676 yards and seven touchdowns. He also improved as a blocker, which helped him become a third-round prospect.
“We see him as a complete tight end,” Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said. “He’s not just a blocker or a receiver. He has the strength to block a defensive lineman or he can flex out and go catch a pass. He’s the total package when you’re looking at a tight end.”
When asked for a personal model for his game, Walford didn’t list a Hurricane. He chose Arizona product Rob Gronkowski. McKenzie chose one who donned silver and black.
“How about Raymond Chester,” he said with a laugh.
Walford will start on special teams and earn promotions as they come. They might come quickly.
The Raiders need depth at the position, though they added blocking tight end Lee Smith in free agency and have receiving tight end Mychal Rivera in the stable.
“I’m going to go out to Oakland and just compete,” Walford said. “I’m not going to expect to start right away. I’m going to out there to learn from the veterans, take their advice and try to be the best tight end I can be. If I compete hard and win a starting spot that’s (a good thing).”