First round tight ends the Raiders could look at in the draft

The Oakland Raiders just signed Jared Cook in free agency so why would they draft a tight end in the first round? Well, they most likely wouldn’t. But at the same time, Cook is only a short term stop gap and while tight ends don’t often get taken high in the first round, at number 24, it’s not as crazy. Especially in a class of very good tight ends. So if the Raiders did for some reason decide to look at tight end, here are their three primary options in the first round.

O.J. Howard, TE
Round: First

If Jared Cook is a stop gap option for the Raiders at tight end, O.J. Howard would be a great guy to replace him with. Probably the best tight end in this year’s class, Howard is probably also the tight end who needs the most time to be ready. But his size and ability to play as a tight end and even be moved into the slot make him a great option to replace Cook and still allow the Raiders offense to do what they did when Cook was there.

For whatever reason, Howard wasn’t used extensively as a pass catcher in college leading to lackluster numbers. But his size, speed, solid hands and great athleticism make him an ideal prospect to be one of the better pass catching tight ends in the league.

There are concerns about his motivation and as we noted above, he’s a guy with limited experience. The lack of reps as a pass catcher could work in his favor since he has a ton of unreached potential. But it could also work against him as it also means he has work to do in order to fine tune his techniques as a pass catcher.

David Njoku, TE
Round: First

David Njoku is one of those guys who rises up draft boards more because of his freakish physical traits than because of the freakish things he’e put on tape. At 6’4 248 he’s a big boy who can stretch the field and is a big play threat. That kind of player draws a lot of attention when it comes to the pass happy NFL.

But there are reasons to be concerned about Njoku, especially if taking him in the first round. He’s rather unpolished as a route runner and relies more on his speed and athleticism than technique to get open. He’s also not the greatest of blockers and there are plays where you can tell he just isn’t very interested in being a good blocker.

Njoku is a rather boom or bust talent if you ask me, and one I’d rather the Raiders not look at in the first round. He has the physical potential to be an elite pass catcher but if he doesn’t live up to that talent, he’s not likely to live up to a first round selection either. Aside from his insane athleticism, he doesn’t offer a ton to make you confident in taking him as high as the first round.

Evan Engram, TE
Round: First to Second

More of a weapon than a tight end, Engram is another guy that can replace Jared Cook and allow the Raiders offense to maintain the diversity he will allow them to create. Like Cook, Engram can line up as a tight end or a slot receiver. But unlike Cook, Engram was also used in the backfield during his college days.

Incredibly athletic, Engram is a nightmare for opposing defenses. Most linebackers cannot keep up with Engram, forcing opposing teams to use corners to cover him, creating lots of problems for opposing coordinators.

But Engram has his downside as well. He isn’t huge and isn’t the best of blockers. He also has some issues with the dropsies and doesn’t do enough to attack the ball at it’s highest point. Great route running but can be frustrating when he doesn’t finish the play by making a catch, especially concerning with contested catches.

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