Raiders tight ends coach Frank Smith went to bat for Foster Moreau. He worked the LSU product out privately after seeing him up close in the Senior Bowl, and kept telling his bosses Moreau was worthy of a draft pick despite pedestrian college receiving totals.
Smith said he had great character and versatile talents capable of fitting in well with what the Raiders like to do offensively.
General manager Mike Mayock and coach Jon Gruden listened to Smith, and took Moreau in the fourth round of April's draft. Now that he’s in Silver and Black, let’s take a closer look at what Moreau could provide during his rookie year.
Draft slot: No. 137 overall (Fourth round)
Position: Tight end
Weight: 253 pounds
School: Louisiana State
Moreau wore the prestigious No. 18 at LSU, a great statement about his leadership and character. He’s a tough guy on the field, and a capable and committed in-line run blocker. He’s technically sounds entering the pros, with good footwork and functional strength to help in the run game. He can move well and make blocks down field as well, which should help in the Raiders blocking scheme.
He’s a competitive receiver, willing to fight for contested receptions. He’s not great creating separation in routes, lacking athleticism that other tight ends have in order to be a dynamic element of the passing game.
Training camp proving ground
The Raiders like Moreau’s willingness to do often thankless jobs, including special-teams work and run-blocking. He must prove a versatile talent and standout in a competitive position group with more deserving players than roster spots.
Moreau’s youth and draft status make him a virtual lock on the 53-man roster, but he’ll still have to earn his spot with a solid preseason and training camp by doing little things right to contribute along the offensive front. He'll also need to prove worthy of targets in the passing game.
The Raiders released chief blocking tight end Lee Smith, and that important role must be filled. Moreau will have a chance to contribute right away there, assuming he fares better than the veterans of similar stature with more experience working in the trenches.
That would make tight-end roster selection easier if Moreau can play right away, and streamline a position group that might march into the regular season with only three members -- maybe four, at maximum.
He should step in on kick coverage, while working to develop as an offensive threat as an in-line player.
Moreau struggles to establish himself in training camp and falls down on the depth chart. The Raiders should have several worthy players at the position, even though few have name recognition. The LSU product doesn’t want to rely on his draft status to land a spot, though it’ll help him if training camp doesn’t go well.
If he struggles in the run game right away, he might end up inactive on game days and a non-contributor in his rookie year.
The fact that Moreau’s a grinder and technically savvy should help his transition to NFL life. He should find ways to contribute right away, even if he won’t fill up a stat sheet. The Raiders don’t need him to, with Darren Waller serving as the primary receiving tight end.
Moreau can move around the formation, and could be a surprise third-down or red zone target, taking advantage of coverage focused elsewhere. Quarterback Derek Carr found Smith and Derek Carrier in those instances last year, meaning Moreau could get similar moments in the sun in 2019.