After the Raiders allowed Jared Cook to leave for New Orleans, a hole opened in the starting lineup. For as long as the league exists, employing a great tight end remains one of the most important aspects of any offense. With that said, the Raiders will enter camp, touting the upside and starting potential of Darren Waller. Jon Gruden endorses Waller’s ascension.
“We’ll we said, I think the last time we talked, since he’s been here he’s been one of our most impressive players,” head coach Jon Gruden said. “He played a key role last year when he got here. He’s got some big shoes to fill, I know he respects that, but he’s versatile, he’s smart, he’s fast. He wants to do good, he’s a great kid.”
FPC Raiders writers Ray Aspuria and Terrance Biggs discuss Waller’s viability as a starter.
Do you buy Darren Waller as the starter? Why? If not, who should start?
I have my reservations. Namely — blocking. That is why we saw plenty of Lee Smith last year with receiving tight end Jared Cook. Waller has the same toolbox as Cook — size, terrific speed and receivers hands — however he’s light in the britches when it comes to blocking. A Gruden tight end needs to both protect the QB and open lanes for RBs.
I can see Waller sharing time with veteran Luke Wilson and even rookie Foster Moreau. Both are lunch pail-style blockers.
When I see Darren Waller, the sight gives me pause. In all honesty, Martavis Bryant crosses my mind. With all the talent in the world, he should excel. Yet, with those gifts, past troubles arise. The league suspended Waller for a year for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.. However, on the field, the speed intrigues me. Waller maintains a step on any linebacker that will attempt to cover him. On the other hand the blocking piece, in the Gruden offense, Waller must punish defenders.
Overall, Jon Gruden will give Waller every chance in the world to secure the job. In Waller, the Raiders have a lottery ticket. Depending on circumstance, it is a gamble.