After a breakout season in 2019, Darren Waller proved he wasn’t a one-hit-wonder with a huge game against the New Orleans Saints. The Las Vegas Raiders tight end is almost impossible to guard due to his massive size and elite speed. He’s too big for cornerbacks and too fast for linebackers. He’s a matchup nightmare for any defense.
He hasn’t played enough games for people to start considering him to be the top tight end in the NFL but head coach Jon Gruden thinks that he’s already there.
“Darren Waller is a great player, and our job is to get him the ball,” said Coach Gruden. “I’ll take him out of any of the tight ends, and I know [Greg] Kittle and [Travis] Kelce are as good as they get, but Waller is right up there with them.
“This is his second year playing the position, and it’s astonishing what this man can do.”
Waller probably isn’t as strong as the other two at blocking but there’s an argument to be made that he’s at least one of the two best receiving tight end in the NFL. Last season, he finished second behind Kelce in receiving yards and receptions among tight ends. Right now, he leads the NFL in receptions by a tight end and is third in yards. He could be in for a statement season.
Derek Carr Praises Waller
There’s probably no one who is happier with Waller’s emergence than quarterback Derek Carr. He’s the epitome of a security blanket and seems to catch everything thrown in his direction.
“I think he did an exceptional job,” Carr said. “Like I told Lisa Salters and everybody in the production meeting, whoever watches this game gets to see everything about Darren Waller that we know of him to be. He’s not only one of the best players in the NFL, but he’s one of the best humans in the NFL. I love that man; he’s a great guy, great player and I’m glad to be his quarterback. I’m honored.”
Carr has done really well with tight ends since Gruden took over as coach and Waller is the most talented he’s ever had. Though he had a late start to success, Waller should be good for a long time.
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Waller Talks Relationship With Carr
Waller has been very open about his struggles with addiction in the past. It’s remarkable that he was almost out of the league a few years ago. Waller and Carr have built a strong relationship over the last couple of seasons and it shows on the football field.
“Just in Bible study environments, me being open about things that I was going through and him welcoming me and not judging me in any way,” Waller said of Carr. “From there it was a thing where I didn’t want to let him down and wanted to be there for him because I know he was there for me, and he’s been there for me ever since. Once that was there, it’s kind of easy to translate it over to the field. We just put the work in.”