The Oakland Raiders must be feeling some déjà vu when it comes to the Tight end position. For two straight years, the Raiders have seen their starting tight end sign with another team in the off season. First, it was Zach Miller, a pass catching machine who lead the Raiders in receptions for a couple of years, who left in free agency to sign with the Seattle Seahawks. Then, this off season the Raiders were forced to cut Kevin Boss due to cap issues and watched him sign with division rival Kansas City Chiefs.
While the Raiders went out and got Boss in free agency to make up for the loss of Miller! They made no major free agent signing at the tight end position this off season. As the Raiders begin their off season workouts, they have five tight ends on the roster, David Ausberry, Richard Gordon, Brandon Myers, Tory Humphrey and Kyle Efaw. However, both Humphrey and Efaw are camp bodies who will not make the team. That means the starting tight end position will come down to Myers, Ausberry and Gordon.
Both Gordon and Ausberry are second year players who did not see much time in their rookie year. Myers is a fourth year player who has primarily been a back up and special teams player. This means that no matter who is named as the Raiders starting tight end, they will not have a ton of experience. It also means that the Raiders could use a tight end by committee without a real defined starter.
Tight end by committee is even more likely when you consider the strengths of these three players. Gordon is primarily a blocking tight end, Ausberry is primarily a pass catcher, while Myers can do both, but does not excel at either. However, given the lack of experience at the position, I expect Raiders coach Dennis Allen to begin the season with Myers. He has startedn12 games in his career and can stay on the field on both passing and rushing downs.
However, I fully expect David Ausberry to finish the season as the Raiders unquestioned starting tight end. Ausberry, a former college wide receiver, has the most upside of the three. He has the ability to create mis matches and potentially develop into one of the better pass catching tight ends in the league. With guys like Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham re-defining the tight end position, Ausberry seems like the most logical guy for the Raiders to focus on as the potential starter of the future in Oakland.