Editor’s note: CSNBayArea.com will provide daily content previewing the NFL draft, including position breakdowns, news stories, mock drafts and more. Here, he analyzes draft prospects at tight end, and whether the Raiders should select one.
The Raiders needed help at tight end last year and got it. They added blocker Lee Smith in free agency and drafted Clive Walford in the third round. That transformed the position group, supplementing a weak area with Mychal Rivera as a lone incumbent strength.
Undrafted rookie Gabe Holmes was a fourth tight end on the 53-man roster, rendered inactive each time after being forced to promote him after someone tried to poach him off the practice squad.
The Raiders are so secure in this spot they’ve reportedly put Rivera on the trade block in search of an extra draft pick.
He’s expendable because Walford will assume greater responsibility in an offense that prizes versatility from their primary tight end. Walford has great potential, as fan saw near season’s end, and the Raiders hope to give time opportunities to realize it.
Who’s here: Mychal Rivera, Clive Walford, Lee Smith, Gabe Holmes
Draft needs: The Raiders don’t need much here. Even if Rivera ends up elsewhere, Holmes is a player able to step in to the No. 3 spot as Walford’s backup. He’s 6-foot-5, 255 pounds and has the receiving capability to excel at the professional level. He has a year in the system, with youth and potential the Raiders are excited to develop further.
They will need numbers if Rivera leaves or to compete with Holmes, but that wouldn’t come until later in the draft.
Good fits: Iowa’s Henry Krieger Coble was a solid blocking tight end at Iowa, could be a late pick who could help on special teams and develop into a blocking tight end after Smith’s deal ends in two seasons.
Southern Illinois’ Adam Fuehne (6-foot-7, 257 pounds) is an in-line blocking tight end who could be useful in this Raiders scheme down the road as well. The Raiders also like size, and he has plenty of it.
Temarrick Hemingway from South Carolina State is a developmental project with a solid frame who might develop into a productive player. The Raiders have time to nurture a player like this and hope he becomes a late-round steal.