Jared Cook will lead the Raiders tight ends out of the darkness

The Oakland Raiders have had one of the leagues better offense the past two years in a row. Between Derek Carr, Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree and a solid run game, the Raiders were full of weapons to attack opposing defenses.

But notable missing from the offensive attack of the Raiders the past couple of years has been a consistent tight end threat.

Some have speculated that Derek Carr and the Raiders offense just doesn’t like to target tight ends. But three years ago, when the Raiders really didn’t have any good receivers, Mychal Rivera was the top target for Derek Carr. That, combined with the fact that tight end was clearly a target for the Raiders this offseason, leads me to believe that the role of the tight end in Oakland has been diminished because the team simply hasn’t had a tight end they could rely on.

That changes now.

With Cook, the Raiders have what they were hoping to get when they drafted Clive Walford: A talented pass catcher capable of stretching the seam who never has to come off of the field because he’s a very good blocker as well.

And even more than that, Cook also offers something that Walford doesn’t. The Raiders can line-up Cook outside as a wide receiver in order to try and create mismatches or simply show different looks to the defense. That may not sound like a big deal but it really is. It allows Todd Downing the ability to put wrinkles into his game plan that will throw off defenses.

Theoretically, you could line-up Walford at wide receiver but the threat wouldn’t be the same. Walford isn’t capable of running the kind of WR routes that Cook can. Take a look at this video posted by Ted Nguyen (who if you don’t follow on Twitter, you really should) to get an idea of what Cook can do out wide:

As you can see, Cook lines up at the WR position and uses his athleticism to beat the safety off of the line of scrimmage. You can check out a lot more video of Cook on Ted’s Twitter feed: @RaidersAnalysis.

Plus, while Walford hasn’t lived up to expectations, the presence of Cook allows the Raiders to run two tight end sets that would be damn difficult to cover for opposing teams. And while Cook will be the number one tight end, it’s only a two year contract which should give the Raiders enough time to see if Walford can develop into the tight end they need. If he doesn’t, they may look to the draft to find another young tight end of the future.

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