The Oakland Raiders most improved player over the past season, according to offensive coordinator Greg Olson, is former Vols tight end Mychal Rivera.
“The guy who has shown the most improvement from a year ago is Mychal Rivera,” offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. “He looks more athletic. He’s stronger and more confident. He has a little bit of swagger to him this season.”
Rivera is receiving a lot of hype this off-season after finishing his rookie campaign with 38 receptions for 407 yards and four touchdowns.
Modest numbers by most accounts.
But not good enough for Rivera.
The former Vol has lofty goals, telling Raiders.com “I want to be one of the best tight ends in this league, and I see that that’s attainable. I can get that”.
Rivera isn’t just interested in bettering himself either. He also stressed the importance of winning by saying “I want to win in this league, that’s a goal of mine”.
Tight ends typically make a big leap from year one to year two and that’s exactly what the Raiders are hoping for from Rivera.
However, it’s not a foregone conclusion that Rivera will be the guy this season.
Oakland released their first depth chart of the season on Monday and David Ausberry was listed as the starting tight end.
Of course any depth chart released before a team’s even played a pre-season game is far from final.
At worst, the time at tight end will be split 50/50 among Ausberry and Rivera (if you’re coming from Rivera’s perspective). I think Rivera, given the high volume of praise he’s received this off-season, ultimately wins the starting job.
If that ends up being the case, he could be in for a breakout season.
Former Vols wide receiver Denarius Moore was listed on the “third-team” offense on Oakland’s initial depth chart. I don’t think he’ll end up there, but I don’t think he’ll be a starter either.
Moore’s had an up-and-down off-season. He won’t be a consistent starter in this league until he can be a consistent performer.
It might be in Moore‘s best interest to be traded, where he can get a better shot at playing time as a deep threat wide receiver.
Trades don’t happen very often in the NFL, but if Moore does end up being dealt then both Chicago and Carolina would be intriguing destinations for the former Vol.