Clive Walford Could Be Key Player in Raiders’ Offensive Revival

The Oakland Raiders made a point to give quarterback Derek Carr weapons this offseason. General manager Reggie McKenzie added wide receiver Michael Crabtree, running back Roy Helu Jr. and running back Trent Richardson in free agency and then used the No. 4 overall pick on wide receiver Amari Cooper.

It’s not hard to envision an offensive revival for the Raiders starting with Carr and Cooper, but it’s just as possible that tight end Clive Walford, the Raiders' third-round pick, could actually be the central figure. Walford could become Carr’s security blanket on third down, which he desperately needed in 2014, and his favorite target in the red zone. compared Walford to Indianapolis Colts tight end Dwayne Allen, who figured prominently in Andrew Luck’s rookie campaign. Walford is like Allen in that he can catch passes and block, so he’ll always be on the field.

Last season, the Raiders struggled to sustain drives. Only the Tennessee Titans averaged fewer than the Raiders’ 5.1 plays per drive, but no team averaged fewer than their paltry 22.6 yards per drive. As a result, they averaged just 1.21 points per drive—the second worst total in the league.

Part of the reason this happened was because the Raiders averaged 3.7 yards per carry on the ground. The Raiders’ 77.5 rushing yards per game was the worst in the league and they routinely faced 3rd-and-long situations as a result.

Walford can block on first and second down so the Raiders will have manageable third downs. When the Raiders get to third down, he can be a reliable option for Carr in the passing game that he didn’t have last year.

Tight end Mychal Rivera and now former wide receiver James Jones were among the league leaders in targets on third down last season, but the Raiders converted just 33.8 percent of their third-down attempts, which ranked 28th i...

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