Raiders Point/Counterpoint: Darren Waller

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Oakland Raiders TE Darren Waller

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?

Aspuria

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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.

Biggs

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.

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1 COMMENT

  1. For those “unaware,” Darren played WR at GA Tech under Paul Johnson, which was running his version of the Spread Option which ran the ball about ninety percent of the time. If GA Tech’s WR’s couldn’t, or wouldn’t, block, effectively, they didn’t get playing time, so it’s a fallacy that this is a missing part of his game; in fact, it may actually end up being one of his strongest assets as a TE as he’s never been afraid of getting dirty and laying out defenders. The beauty of Darren was as soon as the defenders creeped up on him, thinking he was going to block, he had the strength, size, and speed, to run a pass rout when called upon, and I believe this, too, will translate well to the Pros and you Raiders fans will enjoy the show.

    Darren’s only problem at GA Tech was he was immature, and that carried over when he was first drafted. If he’s grown up, he will be an All-Pro TE.

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