Should the Raiders be using Clive Walford more often?
In the absence of both Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper, the Oakland Raiders turned to an unexpected source for help in the passing game. It was Issaac Whitney who was brought up from the practice squad to take Crabtree’s spot on the roster but it was Clive Walford who received snaps in the absence of the top two receivers.
Heading into Sunday’s game against the New York Giants, Walford had three catches on five targets. On Sunday, he had four catches on four targets for 57 yards. That was good enough to have the second most catches and yards of any receiver on the Raiders, Sunday.
It’s also worth noting that Walford ran his routes and made his catches from the slot.
#Raiders TE Clive Walford ran all 13 of his routes from the slot on Sunday, where he hauled in four passes for 57 yards to lead all TEs in slot YPRR at 4.38.
That means if Oakland wanted to use Walford more often, they would have options on how to do so. They could run two tight end sets with Jared Cook or use Walford as a slot receiver. As we all know, Seth Roberts is currently the slot receiver, and while he is great as a run blocker, he leaves a lot to be desired as a pass catcher. Given Walford’s success in the slot on Sunday, perhaps he should start seeing some of Roberts’ snaps in the slot.
Walford has spent much of this season on the bench in part due to his poor blocking skills. The Raiders like their tight ends to be more of the traditional style that can both block and catch passes. Since Cook is a better blocker than Walford, we’ve seen Cook and Lee Smith far more often than Walford this season.
But with the offense struggling, perhaps the Raiders should look outside of the box and try to get Walford more involved on offense. After all, over the past two years when Derek Carr was at his best, he was a guy who was known for spreading the ball around. In his biggest and best performances, he would often complete passes to 10 or 11 different pass catchers. We haven’t seen the same level of spreading the ball around this season and perhaps giving Walford a chance to step up and make plays would change that.
At the end of the day, this is a Raiders team who needs a spark on offense. The defense has improved under John Pagano but the offense remains an inconsistent and frustrating unit. Walford won’t turn the offense into the juggernaut we all expected, but he might be able to give the team a spark.