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From The Ashes: Darren Waller

Each draft season you’re guaranteed at least one physical freak. They break all sorts of height-weight-speed thresholds but tend to be as raw as sushi. Darren Waller was no different coming out of Georgia Tech’s triple-option offense.

Measuring in a 6’6” 255 pounds, Waller ran a 4.46 40-yard dash (100th percentile), had a 99th percentile speed score, a 90th percentile burst score, an 81st percentile agility score, and a 96th percentile catch radius.

He initially entered the league as an oversized WR, and the Ravens drafted him in the 6th round of the 2015 draft. Literally, everything that could go wrong, did go wrong after that. Early into his rookie season, he was placed on IR ending his season. He was then suspended on 2 separate occasions for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. During that time, he transitioned to the Tight End position.

The Ravens ultimately waived Waller in 2018, before the Raiders added him to their roster. For the 2018 season, he was used very sparingly as he adjusted to his new position. However, now Jared Cook is out of the picture. I do like the Raiders’ addition of Foster Moreau but he’s certainly raw and likely to take a few seasons to adjust.

That has led the Raiders hierarchy to lean on Waller as their potential starting TE in the short term. Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said that the team will give tight end Darren Waller “a chance of a lifetime”. Additionally, General manager Mike Mayock stated that he hopes Waller can become the Raiders’ top receiving threat at tight end.

Waller flashed his potential at the end of last season with six catches for 75 yards on six targets over the final three weeks in December. If he truly is on the field during Raiders passing situations, he certainly could have a lot of space on the field. Antonio Brown, Josh Jacobs, and Tyrell Williams will undoubtedly be the focus of most defenses, which could leave Waller in acres of space.

In quite a few leagues I added Waller for free as soon as Jared Cook signed with the Saints. Following his series of the off-field issues, many owners dropped Waller to waivers. Despite Waller’s late college breakout age and missed seasons in the NFL, he is technically only entering his 4th season overall and 3rd full season on an active roster. As you very well know, that’s the pinnacle breakout point for many TE prospects.

Waller’s breakout certainly isn’t guaranteed considering his past issues and unrefined playstyle, but as an end of bench stash, he could provide some value to flip in this new look 2019 Raiders offense. The opportunity is certainly there!

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