Derek Carr has some new toys to play with.
After the Raiders drafted Amari Cooper fourth overall, they handed their young quarterback a new tight end to throw to in the third round, Clive Walford.
Walford attended Miami, starting 35 games for the Hurricanes and catching 121 passes for 14 touchdowns in four seasons.
Walford anchored his draft stock at the Senior Bowl, impressing scouts with his blocking and his route running ability.
“I’m not looking to go start right away. I’m going to go out there to learn from the veterans and take some of their advice, but you know I’m going to compete at the same time. If I win that starting spot, that’s all on god.”
NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock noted Walford as a vertical threat and a guy who plays faster than he can run, during the draft broadcast.
Walford says he’s a dual-threat tight end and fashions his game after Rob Gronkowski of New England.
He could be a significant addition to the Raiders offense, which over the past two months, has looked like a whole different unit. Because a lot of it is.
“You want your players to be as versatile as possible. So that will help. You don’t want a bunch of one dimensional players on the field.”
“We see him as a guy who is big enough and strong enough to pound it against the defensive line, and he can flex out, run the routes, and be that flex receiver. We’re looking at a total package. He’s that complete tight end.”
Oakland plans on running an uptempo scheme this season, and feel comfortable that Walford will be able to contribute. Even on special teams.
Walford played his best college ball during his senior season, racking up 676 yards on 44 catches and seven touchdowns. He recorded an astounding 15.4 yards per catch in 2014, and the Raiders could use some finesse receiving at tight end.
Walford attributes his jump during his senior year to maturity, becoming a legitimate leader, and focusing more.
Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave didn’t give Walford a specific role right away, he just asked if he was ready to be a Raider.
The Raiders’ medical staff looked deep into Walford’s body, including a meniscus injury that kept him from playing in Miami’s bowl game in December of 2014.
He suffered a meniscus tear while facing Pittsburgh.
But the staff cleared him 100 percent, which may have been the only hiccup from any part of the evaluation process.
Cooper and second round pick Mario Edwards Jr. also have lived in Florida for at least three years, Walford being a Florida native who didn’t hesitate at playing for the Hurricanes.
Jason Leskiw is SFBay’s Oakland Raiders beat writer and member of the Professional Football Writers of America. Follow @SFBay and @LeskiwSFBay on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of the Oakland Raiders.