On Wednesday, Raiders rookie tight end Mychal Rivera went to his Twitter account and posted this message:
“I believe dreams come true.”
If making the Oakland roster as a long-shot sixth-round draft choice is his dream, he’s certainly making progress toward fulfilling it.
It’s a crowded competition at tight end at the team’s Napa training camp between veterans David Ausberry and Richard Gordon and Rivera and fellow sixth-round pick Nick Kasa.
But so far, Rivera, who played at Tennessee, has made a good impression.
On Thursday, Rivera again made some nice catches in practice. Since training camp opened, the 6-foot-3, 245-pounder has shown good hands and an ability to make plays.
Head coach Dennis Allen has noticed.
“Mychal Rivera is one guy who’s a rookie that came in and did a really nice job in the passing game, and one of the question marks of him coming in was how he was going to do as a blocker, and he’s done a nice job as far as that’s concerned,” Allen told the media after Thursday’s sessions.
As a senior at Tennessee last season, Rivera caught 36 passes for 562 yards and five touchdowns and was selected to the all-Southeastern Conference team by SEC coaches. As a junior, Rivera caught 29 passes for 344 yards.
The scouting report on Rivera coming out of college was that he was a very good pass-catcher with good hands and good speed. One report, by NFL.com, projected that Rivera “fits the current trend of teams searching for pass-catching tight ends able to take advantage of coverage mismatches.”
But scouts also knocked his blocking prowess, saying he needed to beef up and also improve his lateral quickness.
So far, however, Rivera has met those challenges in training camp.
Rivera, in fact, has embraced the fact that he’s a long shot. With a crowded field at the the tight end spot – where Ausberry is considered the front-runner to replace the departed Brandon Myers as starter – Rivera will have to continue impressing the coaching staff through the exhibition season if he wants to be on the opening-day roster.
“I feel like I kind of went under the radar a little bit,” he told the Raiders’ website this spring, about being taken in the sixth round. “But that’s how my career has been. My career, ever since Pop Warner, I’ve been the last guy to prove myself, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”