There was a lot of speculation all off-season long on who would be the starting tight end for the Oakland Raiders. After what appeared to be a month’s long game of musical chairs, Mychal Rivera has emerged as the starting tight end for the 2013 Raiders. The explosive David Ausberry was finally supposed to have his break out season as the Raiders tight end but a shoulder injury has derailed his year as he was placed on injured reserve.
During his career at the University of Tennessee, Rivera put up great production but his slow 40 yard-dash times dropped him to the 6th round. During training camp Rivera consistently showed that he was the most complete tight end on the Raiders roster even though he has not been spectacular in any area.
On paper, Jeron Mastrud has been the starting tight end but Rivera has been taking the majority of the reps. Obviously the Raiders offensive line has been a real weakness so far so Rivera must continue to improve his blocking technique. In three games so far this season, Rivera has seven receptions for 79 yards.
Rivera has shown flashes of being a force in the passing game but he has also made too many rookie mistakes. Asking their second tight end drafted in this year’s draft to start is a bit of a reach for the young Raiders.
The promising Terrelle Pryor will need Rivera to make big plays for him this season especially when Pryor is running for his life in the backfield. More importantly, the Raiders need to see which players fit into their future plans.
If Rivera can have a solid rookie season, he could become the Raiders starting tight end of the future. Expect Rivera to finish with at least 45 receptions this season for the Raiders this season.