Editor’s note: Insider Scott Bair will be providing position-by-position breakdowns each day leading up to Raiders training camp. The full squad will report on July 23, with the first practice day scheduled for July 25. In this installment, Scott focuses on tight ends.
Who they have: David Ausberry, Nick Kasa, Mychal Rivera, Jake Murphy, Brian Leonhardt, Scott Simonson
Who they lost: Jeron Mastrud
Looking back: The Raiders didn’t have much experience at the tight end spot last season. Richard Gordon was cut after the preseason and Ausberry was lost for the year in the second preseason game with a major shoulder injury. That left Mastrud and Rivera to pick up the pieces. Mastrud was primarily a blocker, which left receiving duties to Rivera. The rookie sixth-round pick played well in spurts and showed real potential while collecting 407 receiving yards and four touchdowns. Kasa was primarily a special teams player and Leonhardt spent the season on the practice squad.
Overall outlook: The Raiders wanted to upgrade at tight end but, as head coach Dennis Allen said last month, you don’t get everything on your Christmas list. The Raiders will try and do better with roughly the same cast of characters. Mastrud wasn’t re-signed, though Ausberry is healthy and ready to assume a larger role in his contract year. Rivera should factor heavily in to the passing game as well, and Kasa will certainly compete for more playing time. Steady production is vital, especially considering how much quarterback Matt Schaub throws to tight ends.
Camp competition: Ausberry and Rivera will compete to be the top receiving tight end, though it’s unlikely that either would be an every-down tight end. The Raiders will look to Leonhardt or Kasa to be a blocking option on rushing downs. This is a spot where undrafted rookies have a chance to make the squad with a solid preseason and an ability to contribute on special teams.