The Las Vegas Raiders had one of the best tight end units in the NFL in 2019. With the addition of a potential Hall of Famer, the rich became richer. For that reason, they can be as good or even better this upcoming season.
Darren Waller had a breakout season in 2019. However, he wasn’t the only Raiders tight end to perform well on the field. Foster Moreau had five touchdowns for himself, which wasn’t half bad for the rookie. Not being content with what they had, Las Vegas decided to turn their tight end room up to 11Â and signed veteran Jason Witten.
Waller should see more opportunities with the addition of the rookies the Raiders drafted. Although quarterback Derek Carr will spread the ball around, Henry Ruggs III will keep defenses honest. In turn, the tight end will have more space to make plays. On the other hand, Moreau’s 2020 availability is in question after suffering an injury last season. Nevertheless, if the sophomore can pick up where he left off, he will be a key cog for the Raiders.
Despite the fact Witten is no longer a spring chicken, his addition will benefit the Raiders. If Moreau isn’t fully healthy at season’s start, Witten can play in his place. On the other hand, the veteran has gone through and seen a lot in his career. The unit as a whole can learn from him even if his on-field impact ends up being minimal.
Talent and Depth Place Raiders Tight Ends at No. 8
Based on what the Raiders had last season and Witten’s arrival, Pro Football Focus (PFF) placed their tight end group as the eighth-best in their latest rankings. In spite of pointing out Waller’s shortcomings as a blocker, PFF highlights his receiving prowess.
The college wide receiver showed flashes in 2018, but he put it all together last season, winning from various alignments and picking up 594 of his 1,146 yards after the catch to rank second at the position. Waller ranked just 40th with a run-blocking grade of 58.2, but his main role is creating mismatches, and he’s been one of the best value steals in the league in recent years.
As mentioned before, Waller will have more opportunities thanks to his rookie teammates, but the opposite is true. The tight end can take the pressure off the rest of the Raiders skill position players. Witten and Moreau don’t get as much praise as Waller in PFF’s analysis though.
The Raiders also signedÂ Jason WittenÂ this offseason, though he was a step slow in his return in 2019, averaging a career-low 8.4 yards per reception and posting a 60.1 run-blocking grade â€” his lowest mark since 2006. Witton is set to battleÂ Foster MoreauÂ for those short-area targets after Moreau caught 21 of his 23 targets while averaging 8.3 yards per reception last year as a rookie.
Something PFF doesn’t mention is that drop-offs in talent are prone to occur when talking about starters and backups. Of course, backups are an injury away from taking the field, but as a whole, the Raiders’ tight ends are a pretty complete bunch. If they keep performing the way they did and their wide receiver counterparts play better, the team will inflict damage in opposing defenses.
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