The Oakland Raiders are a team with a lot of holes. While they are no longer the team that struggled for years to achieve anything close to success, they are still only a middle of the pack team in the NFL. As a result, while the Raiders were able to add some solid talent this off season, they still have a number of positions that are a big question mark heading into the season, and tight end is one of them.
The tight end position in the NFL involves two primary functions, blocking and pass catching. Traditionally, a solid pass catching tight end in the NFL is seen more as a luxury than a necessity. A solid blocking tight end on the other hand, is a necessity on most teams, and especially those who rely on a strong run game, as the Raiders do. So, in my opinion, a tight end who is not a very good pass catcher is not a liability, but not having a solid blocking tight end would be.
The Raiders will likely go into the 2012 season with three tight ends on the roster, second year players David Ausberry and Richard Gordon, as well as Brandon Myers who has been a back up on the Raiders for the past three years. These three tight ends actually make up a perfectly balanced tight end position. Ausberry is primarily a pass catching tight end, Gordon is primarily a blocking tight end, and Myers is a little bit of both.
While that kind of balance would normally make for a solid position that would not be thought of as a liability, the lack of experience has got to be a concern. The past few years, the Raiders had experienced tight ends who were capable of playing all four downs in Zach Miller and Kevin Boss. Both Gordon and Ausberry saw a lot of time in the pre season last year, but barely saw the field during the regular season. And while Myers has seen a good amount of playing time as a back up, he has never been the primary tight end as he likely will be this season.
There is a lot of potential at the tight end position for the Raiders, but there are also a lot of question marks. The two second year players will need to improve and do so quickly if they want to play much for the Raiders this season. The likely starter, Brandon Myers, has never had to play as many downs as he will this season and is untested as a starter. There is not a high probability that the tight end position will be a liability, but the lack of experience is certainly a concern.