It’s not every day that young players get to play with living legends. That is going to be the case for the Las Vegas Raiders this year as their young tight ends get to play with future Hall of Famer Jason Witten. Adding Witten wasn’t a necessary move as the team already had a strong group of tight ends but he could still have a big impact despite his age.
According to Darren Waller, there’s plenty he can still learn from the 38-year-old.
“I don’t think anybody gets off on snaps as quickly as he does,” Waller said recently. “He’s usually the first one to five yards. He’ll get off quicker than the receivers the first five yards. That’s something I need to improve on because my get-off needs work for sure. I want to get off the ball like him.”
Witten is the model for consistency at the position. He’s put together 16 productive seasons and that’s the kind of longevity the Raiders would like to see from Waller. Young tight ends like Waller and Foster Moreau should be doing everything they can to learn from Witten.
Jon Gruden Has High Praise for Waller
Witten is no doubt one of the best tight ends of all-time but Waller has the potential to be even better. In fact, Waller matched Witten’s career-high for receiving yards in a single season last year and he’s just getting started. Jon Gruden thinks very highly of the young tight end.
“We think he’s a superstar,” Gruden said. “He can do it all. He can block. He can run any route. He’s got great stamina. He had a dark portion of his life there for a while that not a lot of people come back from. I hope a lot of young people out there get the real story of Waller. You can beat addiction if you just listen to Darren Waller and how he did it. He is a great source of leadership and proof you can be great even if you’ve had some really dark, dark times.”
Waller has definitely gone against all odds to become a productive player.
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Waller Looking for Consistency
Waller proved in 2019 to be one of the best receiving tight ends in the NFL. However, he’s still not getting the kind of respect he deserves. Another big season and it will be impossible to ignore the fact that he should be considered a top-three tight end. He acknowledges that he needs to prove he can be consistent.
“You just keep building on the fundamentals and doing the simple things, not getting too worried about making huge plays all the time or doing spectacular things,” Waller said “Last offseason, the way I got better was focusing on the simple things and letting those things stack and turn into consistency.”
Waller was a revelation last year but one good season isn’t enough. With the Raiders adding more playmakers to take some pressure off Waller, he should be even more effective.