During the Ken Norton Era, the Raiders failed defensively. In particular, they could not stop opposing tight ends. Names like Crockett Gilmore, Gary Barnidge, and Rhett Ellison torched Oakland. When Paul Guenther took the coordinator job, the fanbase exhaled. Mainly because, he was not Ken Norton and he made adjustments. Unlike Norton, who would let teams continue to use the tight end at will. With Guenther, Oakland brings a gameplan. With that said, we all know that Travis Kelce brutalizes the Raiders. Outside of the AFC West, the Raiders will face a group of diverse yet skilled pass-catching tight ends. FPC Raiders writers Ray Aspuria and Chris Simmons detail who they would imagine could give the Raiders fits.
Outside of the AFC West, the level of TE the Raiders face drops (except Gronk), which is the best one and what player should cover them?
Until the Raiders show they can remember where the Tight End is after the snap, every TE is a threat to go off. In accepting that former Head Coach Jack Del Rio’s schemes were basic and ineffective, Paul Guenther is going to have to get creative. Derrick Johnson may have some juice left, but asking him to do it for 60 snaps is unreasonable. Instead expect the Raiders to rotate bodies depending on the size and skill set of the TEs they face. In a perfect world, Obi can step into that role and earn a prominent spot on the team. Until he takes that leap, it will be a job performed by committee.
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The Browns David Njoku is a classic matchup nightmare for any defense. He has the size and speed to make you look foolish and has a high upside to other tight ends the Raiders face this year outside the AFC West. If the Browns quarterback play is decent, Njoku can take advantage of open areas while defenses focus on the Browns run game and wide receivers. Taking on Njoku will be a great test of Derrick Johnson’s coverage skills. Oakland brought in the veteran middle linebacker for his renowned coverage skills.
Given these points, the Raiders need strong showings to even survive the AFC schedule.